70 - Al Maarij (Ascending stairways)

4 Tafsir(s) related to verse 70.1


A petitioner petitioned, a supplicator supplicated [for], an impending chastisement

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(A questioner questioned concerning the doom about to fall) [70:1]. This verse was revealed about al-Nadr ibn al-Harith when he said [as reported in the Qur"an] (O Allah! if this be indeed the truth from Thee, then rain down stones on us or bring on us some painful doom!) [8:32], and so he prayed against himself and asked for chastisement. He got what he asked for at the Battle of Badr when he was killed in captivity. And the verse (A questioner questioned concerning the doom about to fall) was revealed about him.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

Some commentators have taken the verb sa'ala in the Text in the meaning of asking, and have interpreted the verse to mean: "The asker has asked: whom will the torment with which we are being threatened befall'" And Allah has answered it, saying: "It will befall the disbelievers." But most of the commentators have taken sa'ala here in the meaning of demanding. Nasa'i and other traditionists have related a tradition from Ibn 'Abbas, and Hakim hold it as authentic, that Nadr bin al-Harith Kaladah had said "O God, if it is really the Truth sent dawn by You, then rain down stones on us from the heavens, or send down any other painful torment on us." (AI-Anfal: 32). Apart from this, at several places in the Qur'an the disbelievers' this challenge has been related: "Why don't you bring down on us the torment that you threaten us with?" For instance, see Yunus: 4b-48, Al-Anbiya': 36-41, An-Naml; 67-72, Saba: 26-30, Ya Sin: 45-52, Al-Mink: 24-27.

Ma'arij is plural of Mi'raj, which means a stairway, or a ladder, or something by which one may go up. To call Allah dhil-Ma'aij (Owner of the Steps of Ascent) means that He is Most High and in order to go up into His Presence the angels have to ascend many heights, one above the other, as has been stated in the following verses.

"The Spirit": the Angel Gabriel (peace be on him), who has been mentioned separately from the angels in order to impress his unique glory and greatness. In Surah Ash-Shu'ara' it has been said: "The trustworthy Spirit has came down with this Qur'an upon your heart", (v. 193), and in Surah AI-Baqarah "Say to them: whoever is an enemy to Gabriel, should understand that he has, by.Allah's command. revealed upon your heart this Qur'an." (v. 97). These verses when read together show that Ar-Ruh (the Spirit) implies the Angel Gabriel.

This is an ambiguous theme the meaning of which cannot be determined precisely. We neither have any knowledge of the reality of the angels, nor can understand the nature of their ascent, nor can conceive the stairways on which they ascend. Besides, about Allah also it cannot be imagined that He lives in a particular place, for He is exalted and free froth the restrictions of space and time.

In Al-Hajj: 47, it has been said: "These people are demanding of you to hasten the torment; Allah will never tail to fulfill His threat, but a day with your Lord is equal to a thousand years as you reckon." In Surah As-Sajdah: 5, it has been said: "He administers the affairs of the world from the heavens to the earth, and the report of this administration ascends (to be presented) before Him in a Day whose length, according to your reckoning, is a thousand years". And here, in response to the demand for the torment, the measure of Allah's one day has been stated to be fifty thousand years. Then the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been consoled, saying: "Have patience at the demand for the torment which the people make out of jest and fun," and then it is said: "They think it is far off, but We see it as near at hand." When all these verses are read together, what becomes obvious is: "The people, because of their narrow and restricted outlook, measure the time of Allah's decrees by their own scales of time and, therefore, consider a hundred years or so to be a very lengthy period, whereas in the Divine conduct of affairs there are schemes spreading over a thousand years each, or fifty thousand years each, as you reckon, and this measure also is only by way of example; otherwise schemes in the universe may extend over millions and billions of years as well. Of these one is the scheme under which Mankind has been created on the earth, and a time limit has been set during which it has been allowed to function here. No man can know when this scheme began, what time-limit has been decreed for its completion, what Hour has been appointed for bringing it to an end, when Resurrection will take place, and what time has been fixed for raising all men, born since the beginning of creation till Resurrection, from death simultaneously and calling them to account for their deeds. We only know to some extent that part of the scheme which is passing before us, or a partial history of the past ages which exists with us. As for its beginning and end, to say nothing of knowing it, we do not even have the power to understand it, not to speak of understanding the wisdom which works behind and underlies it. Now the people who demand that the scheme be cut short and its conclusion be brought immediately before them, and if this is not done. they use it for an argument to prove that the universe has no end and conclusion, in fact, present a proof of their own ignorance and folly. (For further explanation, see E.N.'s 92, 93 of Surah Al-Hajj, E.N. 9 of As-Sajdah).

"A goodly patience": "A kind of patience that behooves a magnanimous person like you."

This can have two meanings:

(1) "That these people think it cannot possibly take place, and in Our view it is going to take place very soon"; and

(2) "that these people think Resurrection is yet remote and far off, and in Our sight it is close at hand and may occur any moment. "

A section of the commentators regard this sentence as related to "a day whose measure is fifty thousand years"; they say that the day whose measure has been stated to be fifty thousand years is the Day of Resurrection. In Musnad Ahmad and in the Tafsir by Ibn Jarir, a tradition has been related on the authority of Hadrat Abu Sa'id Khudri, saying: "When wonder and amazement was expressed before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) about the length of this Day with reference to this verse, he replied: 'By Him in Whose hand is my life, the believer will find the Day even lighter (of shorter duration) than the time he takes in performing an obligatory Prayer in the world". " Had this tradition been reported through authentic channels, this verse could not be interpreted in any other way, but two of its transmitters, Darraj and his teacher Abul Haytham, are both weak and untrustworthy.

That is, it will change its color over and over again.

As the colors of the mountains are different, when they are uprooted and they drift about weight less, they will appear like flakes of carded wool of different colors.

Not so that they will not see each other, therefore they will not ask after each other's welfare, but each will be seeing the other in agony and distress, yet will ignore him, being wholly preoccupied with his own torment.

Here also, as in Al-Haaqqah: 33-34, two causes have been mentioned of a person's evil end in the Hereafter:

(1) His repudiation of the Truth and refusal to affirm faith; and

(2) his worship of the world and stinginess because of which he amasses wealth and refuses to spend it on any good cause.

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 (A questioner questioned): '(A questioner questioned) a caller, i.e. al-Nadr Ibn al-Harith, called (concerning the doom about to fall