A New Commentary of Surah Al Waqi’ah (The Event or the Resurrection)

Source: TheQuran.Love


It is generally considered to be a Makkan surah. The surah takes its name from mention of the Event in v.1, a reference to the Day of Judgment.

According to Syed Hossein Nasr and his associates, in the introduction to this surah:

According to a well—known Hadith, ‘Whosoever recites al—Waqi‘ah every night shall never be afflicted by need’ (Aj, Al, IK, Q). Ibn ‘Ajibah states that this is because whoever understands the things mentioned in this surah regarding the Hereafter will set about preparing for it. The attribution of such qualities to this surah has led to its being one of the most often recited surahs of the Quran, especially in moments of great significance and portent, including for the dying or recently dead.

To know the traditional commentaries referred to by Seyyed Hossein Nasr as alphabets, please see About us page.

We find that reading of the Quran is a blessing but not like a parrot. The real blessing comes from understanding it and implementing it in our thought processes and life.

We have the audacity to say that literal interpretation of this Hadith will not be true. Someone can recite it as a parrot every night and it will not become a magical wand for him or her to fulfill all his or her needs. However, we do believe that someone who genuinely and deeply begins to believe in the Afterlife, will become resigned to the trials of this world and fully resigned and happy with the blessings that await him or her in the Afterlife.

This surah has three sections. In this surah we propose to deal with the commentary of one section at a time rather than one verse at a time.

Section one: The Three Categories of People in the Hereafter

 56:1. When the Event (resurrection) comes to pass.إِذَا وَقَعَتِ الْوَاقِعَةُ
 56:2. None can say that its coming to pass is a lie. لَيْسَ لِوَقْعَتِهَا كَاذِبَةٌ
 56:3. Some it will bring low, others it will exalt. خَافِضَةٌ رَّافِعَةٌ
 56:4. When the earth will be shaken violently.إِذَا رُجَّتِ الْأَرْضُ رَجًّا
 56:5. And the mountains will be ground to powder. وَبُسَّتِ الْجِبَالُ بَسًّا
 56:6. And turned to scattered dust.فَكَانَتْ هَبَاءً مُّنبَثًّا
 56:7. Then you shall be divided into three groups:وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجًا ثَلَاثَةً
 56:8. First, those on the right hand — how lucky are those on the right hand!فَأَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ
 56:9. Second, those on the left hand — how unlucky are those on the left hand! وَأَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ
 56:10. Third, the foremost; they indeed are the foremost. وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ
56:11. They will have achieved nearness to God.أُولَـٰئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ
56:12. They will be in the Gardens of Bliss فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
56:13. A large party from among the early Muslims,ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ
56:14. And a few from the later onesوَقَلِيلٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ
56:15. Seated on couches inwrought with gold and jewels,عَلَىٰ سُرُرٍ مَّوْضُونَةٍ
56:16. Reclining thereon facing each other.مُّتَّكِئِينَ عَلَيْهَا مُتَقَابِلِينَ
56:17. There will wait on them youths, who will not age,يَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُّخَلَّدُونَ
56:18. Carrying goblets and ewers and cups filled out of a flowing springبِأَكْوَابٍ وَأَبَارِيقَ وَكَأْسٍ مِّن مَّعِينٍ
56:19. No headache will they get therefrom, nor will they be intoxicated لَّا يُصَدَّعُونَ عَنْهَا وَلَا يُنزِفُونَ
56:20. And carrying such fruits as they choose,وَفَاكِهَةٍ مِّمَّا يَتَخَيَّرُونَ
56:21. And flesh of birds as they may desire. وَلَحْمِ طَيْرٍ مِّمَّا يَشْتَهُونَ
56:22. And there will be beautiful women with lovely eyes to appreciate, وَحُورٌ عِينٌ
56:23. Like pearls, well preserved, كَأَمْثَالِ اللُّؤْلُؤِ الْمَكْنُونِ
56:24. As a reward for what they did. جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
56:25. They will not hear therein any vain or sinful talk لَا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا تَأْثِيمًا
56:26. Except only the word of salutation, ‘Peace, peace.’ إِلَّا قِيلًا سَلَامًا سَلَامًا
56:27. And as for those on the right hand — how lucky are those on the right hand! وَأَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الْيَمِينِ
56:28. They will be amidst thornless lote-trees فِي سِدْرٍ مَّخْضُودٍ
56:29.  And clustered bananas, وَطَلْحٍ مَّنضُودٍ
56:30. And extended shade, وَظِلٍّ مَّمْدُودٍ
56:31. And flowing water, وَمَاءٍ مَّسْكُوبٍ
56:32. And abundant fruit, وَفَاكِهَةٍ كَثِيرَةٍ
56:33. Neither failing, nor forbidden, لَّا مَقْطُوعَةٍ وَلَا مَمْنُوعَةٍ
56:34. And they will have noble spouses — وَفُرُشٍ مَّرْفُوعَةٍ
56:35 Indeed, We have created them a good creation, إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاءً
56:36 And made them virgins, فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا
56:37. Loving, of equal age عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا
56:38. With those on the right hand: لِّأَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ
56:39. A large party from among the early Muslims, ثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْأَوَّلِينَ
56:40. And a large party from the later ones. وَثُلَّةٌ مِّنَ الْآخِرِينَ

Commentary of Section 1

The surah divides the humans into three groups in the first of the three sections of this surah. The three classes of people are those brought near to God (the best of the believers), those on the right (the ordinary believers), and those on the left (the disbelievers). Ample proof is given in this surah of the life after death or resurrection, for every one to choose their options wisely.

If hereafter comes to be a reality in a believer’s imagination, then obviously he or she wants to be successful in the realm to come.

The rewards of the highest ranking believers, called the foremosts are described from v10-37. As they dwell in the paradise the description apparently seems physical, for example, verses 20 and 21 state: “And carrying such fruits as they choose,” and “And flesh of birds as they may desire.” Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues write in the commentary of these verses:

Cf. 52:22; 77:42. Several other verses also refer to  the fruits of Paradise that will be at the disposal of the believers (e.g., 37:42; 38:61; 43:73); see 36:57c. The birds of Paradise are described in several ahcidith as multicolored birds with extraordinary necks and wings; yet when people expressed wonder at their beauty, the Prophet is reported to have said, “Those who eat them are more blessed than are they” (Q, Sy). Elsewhere it is said that the inhabitants of Paradise shall have whatsoever they will (16:31; 25:16; 39:34; 42:22; 50:35).

When reading any of the descriptions in the Quran of paradise or even hell for that matter, there are two important things to note, firstly, these are only metaphors and not literally true, as the Afterlife is going to be spiritual and not physical: Surah Sajdah: Prostration: Defining Paradise and Hell. Secondly, as noted above by Nasr, the broader message for the dwellers of the paradise is, “Inhabitants of Paradise shall have whatsoever they will (16:31; 25:16; 39:34; 42:22; 50:35),” so any individual reward mentioned is only as an example to motivate.

Section 2: The Best Proof for the Hereafter, the First Creation

56:41. But as for those on the left hand — how unlucky are those on the left hand!وَأَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ مَا أَصْحَابُ الشِّمَالِ
56:42. They will be in the midst of scorching winds and scalding water, فِي سَمُومٍ وَحَمِيمٍ
56:43. And under the shadow of black smoke, وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ
56:44. Neither cool nor agreeable.لَّا بَارِدٍ وَلَا كَرِيمٍ
56:45. Before this they lived a life of ease and plenty إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَٰلِكَ مُتْرَفِينَ
56:46. And used to persist in extreme sinfulness. وَكَانُوا يُصِرُّونَ عَلَى الْحِنثِ الْعَظِيمِ
56:47. And they were wont to say, ‘What! when we are dead and have become dust and bones, shall we indeed be raised again, وَكَانُوا يَقُولُونَ أَئِذَا مِتْنَا وَكُنَّا تُرَابًا وَعِظَامًا أَإِنَّا لَمَبْعُوثُونَ
56:48. ‘And our fathers of yore too?’ أَوَآبَاؤُنَا الْأَوَّلُونَ
56:49. Say, ‘Indeed, the earlier ones and the later ones قُلْ إِنَّ الْأَوَّلِينَ وَالْآخِرِينَ
56:50. ‘Will all be gathered together unto the fixed time of an appointed day. لَمَجْمُوعُونَ إِلَىٰ مِيقَاتِ يَوْمٍ مَّعْلُومٍ
56:51. ‘Then, O ye that have gone astray and have rejected the truth, ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ أَيُّهَا الضَّالُّونَ الْمُكَذِّبُونَ
56:52. ‘You will surely eat of the tree of Zaqqum, لَآكِلُونَ مِن شَجَرٍ مِّن زَقُّومٍ
56:53. ‘And will fill your bellies therewith, فَمَالِئُونَ مِنْهَا الْبُطُونَ
56:54. ‘And will drink boiling water on top of it, فَشَارِبُونَ عَلَيْهِ مِنَ الْحَمِيمِ
56:55. ‘Drinking like the drinking of the camels afflicted with an insatiable thirst.’ فَشَارِبُونَ شُرْبَ الْهِيمِ
56:56. This will be their entertainment on the Day of Judgment. هَـٰذَا نُزُلُهُمْ يَوْمَ الدِّينِ
56:57. It is We, Who have created you. Why, then, do you not accept the truth? نَحْنُ خَلَقْنَاكُمْ فَلَوْلَا تُصَدِّقُونَ
56:58. What do you think of the sperm-drop that you emit? أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تُمْنُونَ
56:59. Is it you who have created it or are We the Creator? أَأَنتُمْ تَخْلُقُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الْخَالِقُونَ
56:60. It is We Who have decreed death for all of you, and We cannot be frustrated نَحْنُ قَدَّرْنَا بَيْنَكُمُ الْمَوْتَ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ
56:61. in replacing you with others like you. We will raise you into a form of which you have not the slightest knowledge. عَلَىٰ أَن نُّبَدِّلَ أَمْثَالَكُمْ وَنُنشِئَكُمْ فِي مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
56:62. And you have certainly known the first creation. Why, then, do you not reflect? وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ النَّشْأَةَ الْأُولَىٰ فَلَوْلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ
56:63. Consider the seeds that you sow? أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَحْرُثُونَ
56:64. Is it you who make them grow or are We the Grower? أَأَنتُمْ تَزْرَعُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الزَّارِعُونَ
56:65. If We so pleased, We could turn your harvest into chaff, then you would keep lamenting: لَوْ نَشَاءُ لَجَعَلْنَاهُ حُطَامًا فَظَلْتُمْ تَفَكَّهُونَ
56:66. ‘We are ruined! إِنَّا لَمُغْرَمُونَ
56:67. ‘Indeed, we are deprived of all the fruits of our labor.’ بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُومُونَ
56:68. Reflect on the water which you drink? أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ الْمَاءَ الَّذِي تَشْرَبُونَ
56:69 Is it you who send it down from the clouds, or do We? أَأَنتُمْ أَنزَلْتُمُوهُ مِنَ الْمُزْنِ أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنزِلُونَ
56:70. If We so pleased, We could make it bitter. Why, then, are you not grateful? لَوْ نَشَاءُ جَعَلْنَاهُ أُجَاجًا فَلَوْلَا تَشْكُرُونَ
56:71. Do you see the fire which you kindle? أَفَرَأَيْتُمُ النَّارَ الَّتِي تُورُونَ
56:72. Is it you who produce the wood for it, or are We the Producer? أَأَنتُمْ أَنشَأْتُمْ شَجَرَتَهَا أَمْ نَحْنُ الْمُنشِئُونَ
56:73. We have made it a reminder and a provision for the wayfarers.نَحْنُ جَعَلْنَاهَا تَذْكِرَةً وَمَتَاعًا لِّلْمُقْوِينَ
56:74. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Great.فَسَبِّحْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الْعَظِيمِ

Commentary of Section 2

The two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death.

 2:285. This Messenger of Ours believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers: all of them believe in Allah, and in His angels, and in His Books, and in His Messengers, saying, ‘We make no distinction between any of His Messengers;’ and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey. We implore Thy forgiveness, O our Lord, and to Thee is the returning.’آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِن رَّبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۚ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّن رُّسُلِهِ ۚ وَقَالُوا سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۖ غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ 

Traditionally five basic beliefs have been described in Islam based on 2:285; the belief in Allah, the angels, the books, the prophets and Day of Judgment.

Belief in the Unity of God is the most fundamental belief in Islam. In Surah Nisa we read, “Allah will not forgive that anything be associated with Him as partner, but He will forgive what is short of that to whomsoever He pleases. And whoso associates anything as partner with Allah has indeed strayed far away.” (4:116) Additionally, it is said that a third of the Quran is about One God of the Abrahamic faiths.

From the following verses one could argue that belief in Allah and the Day of Judgment are a step above the other three, as it can be said that all the prophets were messengers and the message was that there is a Transcendent, All Knowing and Loving God and there is accountability in the Hereafter of the blessings that we have received from Him:

2:62 Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve.إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
 3:64. Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلَّا نَعْبُدَ إِلَّا اللَّـهَ وَلَا نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ ۚ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَقُولُوا اشْهَدُوا بِأَنَّا مُسْلِمُونَ 
 5:69. Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئُونَ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ 

Incidentally, many think of angels as Laws of Nature and if that be true then the atheists and the agnostics believe the best in them.

There are at least five surahs of the holy Quran, almost exclusively devoted to the subject of Afterlife, Al Maarij (70), Al Qiyamah (75), Al Qari’ah (101), Al Takathur (102) and Al Humazah (104).

In Surah Qaaf, Allah says: “So were We incapable of the first creation? No Indeed! Yet they doubt a second creation.” (Al Quran 50:15)

There is only one line of reasoning and proof that the Quran offers about hereafter, Afterlife or resurrection and that is the first creation and that argument is powerfully repeated in verses of this section two of the surah, namely the verses 47-74. A repeat reading of the translation of these verses, without any editorial comments from us should bring the point home.

The Holy Quran discusses reincarnation or resurrection, in equally powerful words in the following verses in Surah Yasin, adding the domain of biology to that of astronomy as the argument is built further, from the first creation:

Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? Yet lo! he is an open quarreler!  And he coins similitudes for Us and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who can quicken the bones when they are decayed?’  Say, ‘He, Who created them the first time, will quicken them; and He knows every kind of creation full well. He Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, and behold, you kindle from it.  Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them?’ Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing.   Indeed,  His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!,’ and it is.  So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back.  (Al Quran 36:78-84)

God being the Creator of the first creation is argued in the commentary of Surah Al Fatihah: The Opening.  The commentary of the first chapter outlines the best way that theists can present the case for the Creator God of Abrahamic faiths to the agnostics and atheists.

The verses that present the first creation as argument for Resurrection or Afterlife are collected in an article by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times: Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story!’

In understanding any of the material details of the life after death, the verse 61 is the key or fundamental. This is examined in an article by Mirza Tahir Ahmad, reproduced in the Muslim Times.  As he has numbered the opening verse of every surah also, the relevant verse will appear as numbered 62 in his article.

There is a lot that can be said about the first creation and the different blessings for example water, agriculture, reproduction and fire mentioned in this section.  But, in the interest of brevity, we just want to quote Syed Hossein Nasr and associates regarding the blessing of water. He writes regarding the verses: “Reflect on the water which you drink? Is it you who send it down from the clouds, or do We? If We so pleased, We could make it bitter. Why, then, are you not grateful?”:

Other verses allude to God’s power to remove water at any time (e.g., 18:41; 67:30), and in several verses, water . . . sent down is used as an allusion to blessings from God (e.g., 35:27; 39:21; 41:39); in others, the manner in which God brings forth life through water is cited as a sign for those who believe (e.g., 2:164; 6:99; 7:57; 80:25-30); and 21:30 states, And We made every living thing from water (see also 24.245; 25:54.). Ingratitude for water thus implies ingratitude for all God’s Blessings and for the gift of life itself.

In another place the holy Quran uses the limited life span of humans or the fact that they got created in the first instance as a proof for Afterlife:

Does he (Muhammad) promise you that when you are dead and have become dust and bones, you will be brought forth again? That which you are promised is utterly opposed to reason! There is no life other than our present life; we were without life and now we live, but we shall not be raised again? (23:34-37)

The Quran uses rain and the dead earth coming to life as a metaphor for the Afterlife on several occasions, for example in Surah Qaaf:

We send from the sky water which is full of blessings, and We produce therewith gardens of grain harvests, and tall palm trees with spathes piled one above the other as a provision for Our servants. We give new life to a land that is dead. Even so shall be resurrection. (50:9-11)

We would like to conclude this section by quoting a few verses from Surah Saffat: Ranged in Rows:

So [Muhammad], ask the disbelievers: is it harder to create them than other beings We have created? We created them from sticky clay. You marvel as they scoff, “take no heed when they are warned, and resort to ridicule when they see a sign, ‘saying, ‘This is no more than blatant sorcery.’ What! After we have died and become dust and bones, shall we really be raised up again, “along with our forefathers? Say, ‘Yes indeed, and you will be humiliated.’ Just one blast and— lo and behold!— they will look and say, ‘Woe to us! This is the Day of Judgement.’ It will be said, ‘This is the Day of Decision, which you used to deny.’ (37:11-21)

Section 3: The Nature of Revelation and the Day of Judgment is Inevitable

56:75. I cite as proof the falling of the stars, فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِمَوَاقِعِ النُّجُومِ
56:76. and that, if you only knew, is a strong proof. وَإِنَّهُ لَقَسَمٌ لَّوْ تَعْلَمُونَ عَظِيمٌ
56:77. That this is indeed a noble Qur’an, إِنَّهُ لَقُرْآنٌ كَرِيمٌ
56:78. In a well-preserved Book, فِي كِتَابٍ مَّكْنُونٍ
56:79. Into the meaning of which only the purified can penetrate.لَّا يَمَسُّهُ إِلَّا الْمُطَهَّرُونَ
56:80. It is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. تَنزِيلٌ مِّن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
56:81. Is it this Divine discourse that you would reject?أَفَبِهَـٰذَا الْحَدِيثِ أَنتُم مُّدْهِنُونَ
56:82. And do you make the denial thereof your means of livelihood? وَتَجْعَلُونَ رِزْقَكُمْ أَنَّكُمْ تُكَذِّبُونَ
56:83. Why is it that when a person is in the throes of death,فَلَوْلَا إِذَا بَلَغَتِ الْحُلْقُومَ
56:84. And you are at that moment looking on — وَأَنتُمْ حِينَئِذٍ تَنظُرُونَ
56:85. And We are nearer to him than you, but you do not realize the stakes وَنَحْنُ أَقْرَبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنكُمْ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تُبْصِرُونَ
56:86. Why, then, if you are not to be called to account, فَلَوْلَا إِن كُنتُمْ غَيْرَ مَدِينِينَ
56:87. You are not able to reverse the dying state, if you are truthful?تَرْجِعُونَهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
56:88. Now if he be of those who have attained nearness to God,فَأَمَّا إِن كَانَ مِنَ الْمُقَرَّبِينَ
56:89. Then for him is comfort and fragrance of happiness and a Garden of Bliss;فَرَوْحٌ وَرَيْحَانٌ وَجَنَّتُ نَعِيمٍ
56:90. And if he be of those who are on the right hand,وَأَمَّا إِن كَانَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ
56:91. Then ‘Peace be on you from those on the right hand.’فَسَلَامٌ لَّكَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ الْيَمِينِ
56:92. But if he be of those who reject the truth and are in error,وَأَمَّا إِن كَانَ مِنَ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ الضَّالِّينَ
56:93. Then for him will be an entertainment of boiling water,فَنُزُلٌ مِّنْ حَمِيمٍ
56:94. And burning in Hell.وَتَصْلِيَةُ جَحِيمٍ
56:95. Indeed, this is the certain truth.إِنَّ هَـٰذَا لَهُوَ حَقُّ الْيَقِينِ
56:96. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Great.فَسَبِّحْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الْعَظِيمِ

Commentary of Section 3

Verses 75-82 talk about nature of revelation and in 83-96 subject returns to nature of death and Afterlife.

About the holy Quran the first important issue described is the preservation of the text of the Quran in the verses, “That this is indeed a noble Qur’an, in a well-preserved Book.” This all important issue will be discussed in the commentary of 15:9.

Often the verse, “Into the meaning of which only the purified can penetrate,” is understood in a broad sense that only pious believers get the genuine insights of the Quran, like else where we read:  “And We are gradually revealing the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers; but it only adds to the loss of the wrongdoers.” (17:82)

But, we believe that this verse also has additional meanings when applied to limited scenarios, for example, we see in real life that a smoker may be in denial of the harmful consequences of smoking and an alcoholic will not see how alcohol is damaging him or her. Likewise, people with specific limitations will not be able to benefit from the relevant verses of the Quran. A gambler may refuse the harm of gambling mentioned in the Quran or a banker may deny the harm of usury or some of the limitations of interest based economies. Another example could be some one who is not well versed in science, despite his or her piety, may not see the import of some verses that cover the domain of religion and science.

Eyes don’t see when the mind does not know.

There are dozens of verses that are interpreted in modern light of science differently today than the best traditional commentators interpreted them centuries ago.

With the scientific progress, during the last century, human life expectancy has tremendously increased, but, immortality is a human desire that will never be fulfilled. Humans are not comfortable with their mortality for scores of reasons and for those who are not living an ethical life, the biggest dilemma is the possibility of Afterlife. This point is made powerfully in the verse: “You are not able to reverse the dying state, if you are truthful?”

On this theme, Seyyed Hossein Nasr has made a very wonderful commentary of the verses 84:

This verse refers to those who are looking on as  another dies, yet have no ability to make the soul stay in the body (IK, T). Vv. 83-85 point to the unique perspective that death imparts both to the dying and to those witnessing the death of another. Suddenly one realizes that the connection to this world is ephemeral and that God is ever near. Upon witnessing death, one is thus reminded that truly we are God’s, and unto Him we return (2:156).

And for verse 87 he writes:

This verse asks, ‘If you do not owe your life to  God and are yourself responsible for it, why do you not control the moment of death when the soul will be returned whence it came? or ‘Why are you unable to return the soul to the body after it has reached the throat?’ (Aj, IK, Q). unconstrained translates ghayr madinin, which could also mean ‘if you are not indebted,’ indicating, ‘If you truly own your own soul and do not owe the debt of your soul to God, then you should be able to control whence it came and whither it will go.’

The last section of surah again stresses the Afterlife as, “Indeed, this is the certain truth.” This section restates the destiny of the winners and the losers and reminds us of the wise and the best course: “So glorify the name of your Lord, the Great.”

According to Malik Ghulam Farid,”The Surah closes with a beautiful homily that when the inevitable end of all life is death, from which there is no escape, then why should people be neglectful of this hard fact and consign God to oblivion?”

For further reading, may we suggest that Muhammad Ali’s commentary has a 9 page essay on Life after Death, in the introduction section of the commentary. The Kindle version of this commentary is available in only $1.40, from Amazon. A highlight of this essay is that it argues among other things that unlike the eternal paradise, the punishment of hell is not everlasting and it is only meant as a purification.

Categories: Afterlife, Quran

2 replies

Leave a Reply