56 - Al Waqia (The event)

3 Tafsir(s) related to verse 56.1


When the [imminent] Event comes to pass, [when] the Resurrection takes place,

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Opening the discourse with this sentence by itself signifies that this is an answer to the objections that were than being raised in the disbelievers conferences against Resurrection. This was the time when the people of Makkah had just begun to hear the invitation to Islam from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon be Allah's peace and blessing). In it what seemed most astonishing and remote from reason to them was that the entire system of the earth and heavens would one day be overturned and then another world would be set up in which all the dead, of the former and the latter generations, would be resurrected. Bewildered they would ask: `This is just impossible ! Where will this earth, these oceans, these mountains, this moon and sun go? How will the centuries-old dead bodies rise up to life ? How can one in his senses believe that there will be another life after death and there will be gardens of Paradise and the fire of Hell ?" Such were the misgivings that were being expressed at that time everywhere in Makkah. It was against this background that it was said: "When the inevitable event happens, there shall be no one to belie it. "

In this verse the word "wagi ah " (event) has been used for Resurrection, which nearly means the same thing as the English word 'inevitable', signifying thereby that it is something that must come to pass. Then, its happening has been described by the word "waqi ah, " which is used for the sudden occurrence of a disaster. Laisa li-waq'at-i-ha kadhibat-un can have two meanings:

(1) That it will not be possible that its occurrence be averted, or stopped, or turned back; or, in other words, there will be no power to make it appear as an unreal event; and

(2) that there will be no living being to tell the lie that the event has not taken place.

Literally: "that which causes (something or somebody j to rise and to Fall. " Its one meaning can be that it will upset every order: it will turn things up-side-down. Another meaning also can be that it will exalt the lowly and bring low the high and mighty; that is, on its advent the decision as to who is noble and who is ignoble among the people will be made on quite a different basis. Those who posed as honorable people in the world, would become contemptible and those who were considered contemptible would become honorable.

That is, it will not be a local earthquake that may occur in a restricted area, but it will shake the whole earth to its depths all of a sudden, and it will experience a tremendous jolt and tremors all through.

Although the address apparently is directed to the people to whom this discourse was being recited, or who may read it or hear it read now, in fact the entire mankind is its addressee. All human beings who have been born since the first day of creation and will be born till the Day of Resurrection, will ultimately he divided into three classes.

The word maintanah in ashab al-maimanah, in the original, stay have been derived from Yamin, which means the right hand, and also from yumn, which means good omen. If it is taken to be derived from yamin, ashab almaimanah would mean: `those of the right hand." This, however, does not imply its lexical meaning, but it signifies the people of exalted rank and position. The Arabs regarded the right hand as a symbol of strength and eminence and honor, and therefore would seat a person whom they wished to do honor, on the right hand, in the assemblies. And if it is taken as derived from yumn, ashab almaimanah would mean fortunate and blessed people.

The word mash 'amah in ashab al-mash'amah, in the original, is from shu'm which means misfortune, ill-luck and bad omen; in Arabic the left hand also is called shuma. The Arabs regarded shimal (the left hand) and shu'm (bad omen) as synonyms, the left hand being a symbol of weakness and indignity. If a bird flew left on the commencement of a journey, they would take it as a bad omen; if they made a person sit on their left, it meant they regarded him as a weak man. Therefore, ashab al-mash'amah implies ill-omened people, or those who would suffer disgrace and ignominy, and would be made to stand on the left side in the Court of Allah.

Sabiqin (the Foremost) implies the people who excelled others in virtue and love of the truth and in good works and responded to the call of Allah and His Messenger before others. They were also in the forefront in their response to the call for Jihad, for expending their wealth for the sake of the needy and for public services, or for inviting others to virtue and truth, in short, for spreading the good and wiping out evil and making sacrifices and exerting themselves whenever there was need for it. On this very basis, in the Hereafter too, they will be placed in the forefront.

Thus, mankind, so to say, will be ranged in Allah's Court like this: On the right hand, there will be the righteous, on the left the wicked, and in the forefront (nearest in Divine Presence) the Sabiqin (the Foremost in Faith and good deeds). According to a Hadith reported by,Hadrat `A'ishah the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace) asked the people: "Do you know who, on the Day of Resurrection, will he the first to be accommodated under the Divine Shade ?" The people said Allah and His Messenger only had the best knowledge. Thereupon the Holy Prophet replied: "Those who were such that when the Truth was presented before them, they accepted it forthwith; when a right was asked of them, they discharged it gracefully; and their decision in respect of others was the same as in respect of their own selves." (Musnad Ahmad).

The commentators have differed as to who are implied by the former And the latter people '`

One group of them has expressed the view that the "former people" were the communities that passed away since the time of the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) till the time of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), and the ¦people of the latter day" those who will have lived in the world since the advent of the Holy Prophet till the Day of Resurrection. Accordingly the verse would mean: "The number of the Sabqin (the Foremost in Faith and good deeds) among the people who passed away during the thousands of years before the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) would be greater, and the number of those who would attain to the rank of the Sabiqin among those people who have been born since the advent of the Holy Prophet, or will be born till the Day of Resurrection, will be less. "

The second group says that the former and the latter in this verse imply the former and the latter people of the Holy Prophet's own Ummah itself. That is, in his Ummah the people belonging to the earliest period were the former among whom the number of the Sabiqin will be greater, and the people of the later periods are the latter among whom the number of the Sabiqin will be smaller.

The third group holds the view that this- implies the former and the latter people of every Prophet's own Ummah. That is, there will be numerous Sabiqin among the earliest followers of every Prophet, but among his later followers their number will decrease. The words of the verse bear all the three meanings, and possibly all three ate implied, for there is no contradiction between them. Besides, they give another meaning also and that too is cornet: every early period of a Prophet's following the proportion of the Sabiqin in human population would be greater and in the later period less, for the number of the workers of good and right does not increase at the rate of increase of the human populations. They may be more numerous as against the Sabiqin of the earliest period. but on the whole their number as against the world population goes on becoming less and less.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (When the event befalleth): '(When the event befalleth) He says: when the Day of Judgement comes.