75 - Al Qiyama (Resurrection)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 75.1


Nay! (the lā is extra in both instances) I swear by the Day of Resurrection.


Nay, I swear by the Day of Resurrection.! And nay, I swear by the self-reproaching soul!The evil-inciting self (nafs ammāra bi"l-sūʾ) is [here in the form of] the blaming self (nafs lawwāma). It is a companion (qarīna) to avarice (ḥirṣ) and [far-fetched] hope (amal). Then he said:He [God] has simply forbidden you from obeying ⸢the Enemy [Satan]⸣, from being deluded by the world, and from letting yourself be deceived by the lower self. God, Exalted is He, said, Verily the soul is ever inciting to evil [12:53]; and He said: So do not let the life of this world deceive you [31:33]; and He also said: Truly Satan is an enemy to you [35:6].His words, Exalted is He:

Kashf Al-Asrar

No! I swear by the Day of Resurrection.

The Lord of the Worlds swears an oath by the Day of Resurrection. That is the day when the pavil- ions of the rightful due of lordhood will be opened, the carpet of majesty and tremendousness spread, and the banner of all-compellingness brought out to the desert of all-subjugatingness. The portico of magnificence will be raised, the scales of justice will be hung, and the harshness of the exalted all-compellingness will make everyone confounded and senseless. The prophets will come in their perfection and put away talk of their knowledge: "We have no knowledge" [5:109]. The angels of the Dominion will come and strike fire to the monasteries of their worship: "We have not worshiped You with the rightful due of Your worship." The recognizers and tawḤīd-voicers will come and disown their own recognition: "We have not recognized You with the rightful due of Your recognition."

What great remorse-if on that day His bounty does not take your hand! What tremendous affliction-if in that assembly His generosity does not come to your aid! If His solicitude does not take your hand, what good will obedience have done? If He shows the face of His justice, that will be your destruction.

The Pir of the Tariqah said, "O God, You know that I do not have these days by myself. I do not light the candle of guidance with my sufficiency. What comes from me? What opens up from my doing? My obedience is through Your success-giving, my service through Your guidance, My repentance through Your kind favor, my gratitude through Your beneficence, my remembrance through Your inspiration. All is You! Who am I? If not for Your bounty, what do I have?"

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

To begin the discourse with "Nay" by itself indicates that the Surah was sent down to refute some argument which was already in progress. The theme that follows shows that the argument was about Resurrection and life after death, which the people of Makkah were denying and also mocking at it at the same time. This can be understood by an example. If a person only wants to affirm the truth of the Messenger, he will say: "By God, the Messenger has come with the truth." But if some people might be denying the truth of the Messenger, he in response would rejoin, thus: “Nay, by God, the Messenger has come with the truth." It would mean: "That which you say is not true. I swear that the truth is this and this."

The Qur'an has mentioned three kinds of human self:

(1) Ammarah: the self that urges man to evil;

(2) Lawwamah: the self that feels repentant at doing wrong, thinking wrong and willing wrong and reproaches man for this; and the same is called Conscience in modern terminology; and

(3) Mumta'innah: the self that feels full satisfaction at following the right path and abandoning the wrong path.

Here. the thing for which. Allah has sworn an oath by the Resurrection (al- Qiyamah) and the self-reproaching Self, has not been mentioned, for the following sentence itself points it out. The oath has been sworn to stress the truth that Allah will certainly resurrect man after death and He has full power to do so. Now, the question arises: What is the relevance of swearing an oath by these two truths to this thing?

As for the Day of Resurrection, the reason of swearing by it is certainty. The whole system of the universe testifies that it is neither eternal nor everlasting. Its own nature tells that it has neither existed since eternity nor can last till eternity. Human intellect has never had any strong argument to support the baseless view that this ever changing world could have existed since ever and would last for ever. But as the knowledge of man about this world goes on increasing, ii goes on becoming more and more certain for man himself that this workhouse of life had a beginning in time before which it was not, and necessarily it has also an end in time after which it will not be. For this reason, Allah has sworn an oath by Resurrection itself on the occurrence of Resurrection, and this is an oath of the kind that we might swear addressing a skeptical person, who may be skeptical about his own existence, saying: "By you yourself, you exist, i.e., your own being itself testifies that you exist. "

But an oath by the Day of Resurrection is only an argument for the truth that this system will one day be upset. As for the truth that after that man shall be resurrected and called upon to account for his deeds and made to see the good or evil results thereof, another oath has been sworn by the self reproaching soul. No man exists in the world, who may not have a faculty called Conscience in him. This Conscience is necessarily conscious of the good and evil, and no :natter how perverted and degraded a man might be, his Conscience always checks him on doing evil and for not doing good irrespective of the fact whether the criterion of good and evil that he had set for himself might in itself be right or wrong. This is an express pointer that man is not merely an animal but a moral being. He naturally can distinguish good from evil; he regards himself as responsible for the good or the evil he does; and even if he might feel pleased suppressing the reproaches of his Conscience over the evil he has done to another, he, on the contrary, feels and demands from within that the other one who has done the same evil to him, must deserve punishment. Now, if the existence of a self-reproaching soul of this kind in man himself is an undeniable truth, then this truth too is undeniable that the same self-reproaching soul is an evidence of the life hereafter, which exists in man's own nature itself. For this demand of nature that man must be rewarded or punished for his good or evil deeds for which he himself is responsible, cannot be met in any other way than in the life hereafter. No sensible man can deny that if man becomes non existent after death, he will certainly be deprived of the rewards of his good deeds and escape the just and lawful punishment of many of his evil deeds. Therefore, unless one comes to believe in the absurd idea that a rational being like man has stumbled into an irrational system of the universe and a moral being like man has happened to be born in a world which basically has nothing to do with morality, he cannot deny the life hereafter. Likewise, the philosophy of the transmigration of souls also is no reply to this demand of nature, for if man goes on being born and reborn in this very world for the sake of being rewarded and punished for his moral acts, in every cycle of life he will perform some additional moral acts, which again will nerd to be rewarded and punished, thus making his account snore and snore lengthy and complicated in an endless way instead of being settled tidally and for good. Therefore, this demand of nature is fulfilled only in case man in this world should have only one life and then, after the whole human race has been brought to an end, there should be another life in which all acts of man should be judged and assessed rightly and justly and he should be fully rewarded or punished in consequence thereof. (For further explanation, see E.N. 30 of Surah Al-A'raf).

The above two arguments, which have been presented in the form of the oaths, only prove two things. First, that the end of the world (i.e. the first stage of Resurrection) is a certainty; and second, that another life after death is necessary, for without it the logical and natural demands of man's being a moral being cannot be fulfilled; and this will certainly happen, for the existence of the Conscience in man testifies to it. Now, this third argument has been given to prove that life after death is possible. The people of Makkah who denied it, said again and again: "How can it be that the people who died hundreds of thousands of years ago, whose bodies have disintegrated into particles and mixed in the dust, whose bones decayed and were scattered away by the winds, some of whom were burnt to ashes, others devoured by the beasts of prey, still others drowned in the seas and swallowed by fish, the material constituents of their bodies should re-assemble and every man should rise up as the same person that he once was ten or twenty thousand years before? Allah has given its very rational and highly forceful reply in the form of this brief question: "Does man think that We shall not be able to put his bones together?" That is, "If you had been told that the scattered particles of your body would reunite of their own accord some time in the future, and you would come back to life by yourself with this very body, you would no doubt have been justified in regarding it as impossible. But what you have actually been told is that such a thing will not happen by itself, but Allah Almighty will do this. Now, do you really think that the Creator of the universe, Whom you yourself also regard as the Creator, would be powerless to do so?" This was such a question in answer to which nobody who believed in God to be the Creator of the universe; could say, neither then nor today, that even God Himself could not do this even if He so willed. And if a disbeliever says such a thing, he can be asked: How did God in the first instance make the body in which you at present exist, by gathering its countless particles together from the air, water and earth and many other places you know not what, and how can you say that the same God cannot gather its constituent parts together once again?

That is, "Not to speak of building up your skeleton once again by gathering together the major bones? We are able to make whole the most delicate parts of your body, even your finger tips, as they used to be before."

In this brief sentence the real disease of the deniers of the Hereafter has been clearly diagnosed. What makes them deny the Hereafter is not, in fact, their regarding the Resurrection and Hereafter as impossible but they deny it because acceptance of the Hereafter inevitably imposes certain moral restrictions on them, which they detest. They desire that they should continue roaming in the world at will as they have been roaming before. They should have full freedom to go on committing whatever injustice, dishonesty, sin and wickedness that they have been committing before, and there should be no deterrent to obstruct their freedom and to warn them that one day they will have to appear and render an account of their deeds before their God. Therefore, it is not their intellect which is hindering them from believing in the Hereafter but their desires of the self.

This question was not put as a question but derisively and to deny Resurrection, That is, they did not want to ask when Resurrection would take place but asked mockingly: "What has happened to the day with which you are threatening us. When will it come?"

Literally, the words bariq al-basaru mean dazzling of the eyes by lightning, but in the Arabic idiom these words do not specifically carry this meaning only but are also used for man's being terror-stricken and amazed, or his being confounded on meeting with an accident suddenly and his eyes being dazed at some distressing sight before him. This subject has been expressed at another place in the Qur'an, thus; "Allah is only deferring their case to the Day when the eyes shall stare with consternation." (Ibrahim: 42).

This is a brief description of the chaotic condition of the system of the universe, that will prevail in the first stage of Resurrection. The darkening of the moon and the joining of the moon and the sun together can also mean that not only will the moon lose its light, which is borrowed from the sun, but the sun itself will become dark and both will become devoid of light similarly. Another meaning can be that the earth will suddenly start rotating in the reverse order and on that day both the moon and the sun will rise simultaneously in the west. And a third meaning can be that the moon will suddenly shoot out of the earth's sphere of influence and will fall into the sun. There may possibly be some other meaning also of this which we cannot understand today.

Bima qaddama wa akhkhara is a very comprehensive sentence, which can have several meanings and probably all are implied;

(1) That man on that Day will be told what good or evil he had earned in his worldly life before death and sent forward for his hereafter, and also informed what effects of his good or evil acts he had left behind in the world, which continued to work and to influence the coming generations for ages after him;

(2) that he will be told everything he ought to have done but which he did not do, and did what he ought not to have done;

(3) that the full datewise account of what he did before and what he did afterwards will be placed before him;

(4) that he will be told whatever good or evil he had done as well as informed of the good or the evil that he had left undone.

That is, the object of placing man's record before him will not be to inform the culprit of his crimes, but this will be done because the demands of justice are not fulfilled unless the proof of the crime is produced before the court; otherwise everyman fully well knows what he actually is. For the sake of self- knowledge he does not need that another one should tell him what he is. A liar can deceive the whole world but he him self knows that he lies. A thief can devise a thousand devices to conceal his crime but he himself is aware that he is a thief. A person involved in error can present a thousand arguments to assure the people that he is honestly convinced of the disbelief, atheism or polytheism, which he professes and follows, but his own conscience is never unaware of why he persists in that creed and what, in fact, prevents him from understanding and admitting its error and falsity. An unjust, wicked, dishonest, unmoral and corrupt person can even suppress the voice of his own conscience by inventing one or another excuse so that it may stop reproaching him and should be satisfied that he is doing whatever he is doing only because of certain compulsions, expediencies and genuine needs, but despite this he has in any case the knowledge of what wrong he has committed against a certain person, how he has deprived another of his rights, how he deceived still another and that unlawful methods he used to gain what he has gained. Therefore, at the time when one appears in the Court of the Hereafter, every disbeliever, every hypocrite, every wicked person and culprit will himself be knowing what he has done in the world and for what crime he stands before his God.

The whole passage from here to "Again, it is for Us to explain its meaning", is a parenthesis, which has been interposed here as an address to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). As we have explained in the Introduction above, in the initial stage of the Prophethood when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was not yet fully used to receiving the Revelation, he was afraid when Revelation came down to him whether he would be able to remember exactly what the Angel Gabriel (peace be on him) was reciting to him or not. Therefore, he would try to commit to memory rapidly what he heard from the Angel simultaneously. The same thing happened when Gabriel was reciting these verses of Surah Al-Qiyamah. Therefore, interrupting what was being revealed, the holy Prophet was instructed to the effect: "Do not try to memorize the words of the revelation, but listen to it attentively and carefully. It is Our responsibility to enable you to remember it by heart and then to recite it accurately. Rest assured that you will not forget even a word of this Revelation, nor ever commit a mistake in reciting it!

After this instruction the original theme is resumed with "No, by no means! The fact is... " The people who are not aware of this background regard these sentences as wholly unconnected with the context when they see them interposed here. But one does not see any irrelevance when one has understood their background. This can be understood by an example. A teacher seeing the inattentiveness of a student in the course of the lesson might interrupt the lesson to tell him, "Listen to me carefully", and then resume his speech, This sentence will certainly seem to be irrelevant to those who might be unaware of the incident and might read the lesson when it is printed and published word for word, But the one who is aware of the incident because of which this sentence was interposed, will feel satisfied that the lesson has been reproduced verbatim and nothing has been increased or decreased in it in the process of reproduction.

The explanation that we have given above of the interpolation of the parenthesis in the present context, is not merely based.on conjecture, but it has been explained likewise in the authentic traditions. Imam Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Nasa'i, Tirmidhi Ibn Jarir, Tabarani, Baihaqi and other traditionists have related with authentic chains of transmitters a tradition from Hadrat `Abdullah bin `Abbas, saying that when the Qur'an was revealed to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), he would start repeating the words of the Revelation rapidly as the Angel Gabriel recited them, fearing lest he should forget some part of it later. Thereupon, he was instructed: "Do not move your tongue to remember this Revelation hastily... The same thing has been related from Sha`bi, Ibn Zaid, Dahhak, Hasan Basri, Qatadah, Mujahid and other early commentators.

Although it was Gabriel (peace be on him) who recited the Qur'an to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace), since he recited it on behalf of Allah and not on his own behalf, Allah said: "When We are reciting it."

This gives the feeling, and some early commentators also have given expression to the same, that probably in the beginning the Holy Messenger of Allah used to ask of the Angel Gabriel the meaning of a verse or a word or a command of the Qur'an even in the very midst of the Revelation itself. Therefore, the Holy Prophet was not only given the instruction that he should listen quietly to Revelation when it came down to him, and assured that its each word would be preserved in his memory precisely, and he would be enabled to recite the Qur'an exactly as it was revealed, but at the same time it was also promised that he would be made to understand the meaning and intention of each command and each instruction of Divine Revelation.

This is a very important verse, which proves certain fundamental concepts which if understood well, can protect one against the errors which some people have been spreading before as they are spreading them today.

First, it clearly proves that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) did not receive only the Revelation which is recorded in the Qur'an but besides that he was also given such knowledge by revelation as is not recorded in it. For, if the meaning and intention of the commandments of the Qur'an, its allusions, its words and its specific terms, which the Holy Prophet was made to understand, had been recorded in the Qur'an, there was no need to say that it was also Allah's own responsibility to explain its meaning, for it should then be there in the Qur'an itself. Hence, one will have to admit that the explanations which were given by Allah of the meanings of the contents of the Qur'an, were in any case in addition to the words of the Qur'an. This is another proof of the secret Revelation to the Holy Prophet which the Qur'an provides. (For further proofs of this from the Qur'an, see our book Sunnat ki A ni Haithiyat pp. 94-95 and pp. 118-125).

Secondly, the explanation of the meaning and intention of the Qur'an and of its commandments that was given by Allah to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), was given for the purpose that he should make the people understand the Qur'an by his word and deed according to it and teach them to act on its Commands. If this was not the object, and the explanation was only given so that he may restrict its knowledge to himself, it was then an exercise in futility, for it could not help in any way in the performance of the prophetic duties. Therefore, only a foolish person could say that this explanatory work had no legal value at all. Allah Himself has said in Surah An-Nahl: 44: "And O Prophet, We have sent down this Admonition to you so that you may make plain and explain to the people the teaching which has been sent for them." (For explanation, see E.N. 40 of Surah An-Nahl). And at four places in the Qur'an Allah has stated that the Holy Prophet's task was not only to recite the verses of the Book of Allah but also to teach the Book. (Al-Baqarah: 129,.151, Al-Imran: 164, Al-Jumu`ah: 2. We have fully explained all these verses at pp. 74-77 of Sunnat ki A'ini Haithiyat After this, how can a believer of the Qur'an deny that the Qur'an's correct and authoritative, as a matter of fact official, explanation is only that which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has given by his word and deed, for it is not his personal explanation but the explanation given by the God Who sent down the Qur'an to him. Apart from this, or leaving this aside any person who explains a verse, or a word, of the Qur'an according to his personal whim and desire, commits a boldness which no true believer could ever commit.

Thirdly, even if a person has read the Qur'an only cursorily, he cannot help feeling that there are many things in it whose actual meaning and intention cannot be understood by a reader of Arabic only from the words of the Qur'an, nor can he know how to act on the commands enjoined in them. Take the word salat for instance; The act which has been most stressed by the Qur'an after the affirmation of faith is the act of salat. But no man only with the help of the dictionary can determine its actual meaning. At the most what one can understand from the way it has been repeatedly mentioned in the Qur'an is that this Arabic word has been used in some special terminological sense, and it probably implies some special act which the believers are required to perform. But merely by reading the Qur'an no reader of Arabic can determine what particular act it is, and how it is to be performed. The question: If the Sender of the Qur'an had not appointed a teacher from Himself and explained to him the precise and exact meaning of this term and taught him the method in full detail of implementing the command of salat, could there be even two Muslims in the world who would have agreed on one method of acting on the command of salat just by reading the Qur'an? The reason why Muslims have been performing salat in one and the same way, generation after generation, for more than 1500 years, and the way millions and millions of Muslims are carrying out the command of salat similarly in every part of the world, is that Allah had not only revealed the words of the Qur'an to His Messenger but had also explained to him fully the meaning of those words and the same meaning he taught to the people who accepted the Qur'an as the Book of Allah and him as the Messenger of Allah.

Fourthly, the means of knowing the explanation of the words of the Qur'an that Allah taught His Messenger and the Messenger his Ummah by word and deed, is none but the Hadith and the Sunnah, The Hadith implies the traditions which the earliest followers passed on to the later generations about the sayings and acts of the Messenger on sound authority, and the Sunnah implies the way of life which became prevalent in the individual and collective life of the Muslims by the Holy Messenger's oral and practical teaching, the details of which have been bequeathed by the former to the latter generations by reliable traditions as well as seen.by them practically in the life of the earliest followers. The person who refuses to acknowledge this means of knowledge, in fact, says that Allah after taking the responsibility of explaining the meaning of the Qur'an to His Messenger had, God forbid, failed to fulfill His promise. For this responsibility had not been taken to explain the meaning only to the Messenger in his personal capacity but for the purpose that the Ummah also be made to understand the meaning of the Divine Book through the agency of the Messenger. And as soon as the Hadith and the Sunnah are denied to be a source of law, it virtually amounts to saying that Allah has failed to carry out His responsibility. May Allah protect us froth such blasphemy! To the one who argues that many people had also fabricated Hadid, we would say that fabrication of Hadid itself is a major proof of the fact that in the beginning the entire Ummah gave the sayings and acts of the Holy Messenger (Upon whom be Allah's peace) the status of law, otherwise why should the people who wanted to spread error have fabricated false,Hadith. For only those coins are counterfeited which are current in the bazaar; nobody would print paper currency which had no value in the bazaar. Then, those who say such a thing perhaps do not know that this Ummah had seen to it from the very beginning that no falsehood was ascribed to the holy man whose sayings and acts had the status of law, and as the danger of ascribing false things to him increased, the well-wishers of the Ummah made greater and still greater efforts to distinguish the genuine from the counterfeit. The science of distinguishing the genuine from the false traditions is a unique science invented and developed only by the Muslims. Unfortunate indeed are those who without acquiring this science are being misled by the western orientalists to look upon the Hadith and the Sunnah as un-authentic and un-reliable and do not realize how grievously they are harming Islam by their foolhardiness.

The theme is again resumed from where it was interrupted by the parenthesis. "By no means" implies; "You deny the Hereafter not because you regard the Creator of the universe as helpless to bring about Resurrection and raise the dead, but because of this and this other reason."

This is the second reason for denying the Hereafter, the first being the one mentioned in verse 5 above, saying: Since man wants to avoid the moral restrictions which are inevitably imposed by the belief in the Hereafter, his selfish motives, in fact, urge him to deny the Hereafter, and then he tries to present arguments in order to rationalize his denial. Now, the second reason being presented is that the deniers of the Hereafter are narrow-minded and shortsighted; for them only those results are all important, which appear in this world, and they do not give any importance to those effects which will appear in the Hereafter. They think that they should expend all their labor and effort in attaining whatever benefits, pleasures or joys they can attain here, for if one attained this, one attained everything, no matter what evil end this might lead to in the Hereafter. Likewise, they think that the loss or trouble or grief that can afflict one here is a thing that one must avoid, no matter how great a reward it might earn one in the Hereafter if one endured it here. They are only interested in the cash bargain. For the sake of as remote a thing as the Hereafter they can neither abandon a profit nor suffer a loss today. With this mode of thought when they discuss the question of the Hereafter rationally, it is not true rationalism but a mode of thinking because of which they are resolved not to acknowledge the Hereafter in any case even if their conscience might be crying froth within that the arguments for the possible occurrence and necessity of the Hereafter given in the Qur'an are highly rational and their own reasoning against it is very weak.

"Some faces will be fresh"; will be beaming with joy and delight, for the Hereafter which they had believed in, will be before them precisely accordingly to their belief. Thus, when they see the Hereafter for the sake of which they had given up the unlawful benefits of the world and suffered the lawful losses, actually established before their very eyes, they will have the satisfaction that they had trade the correct decision about their way of life, and the tithe had come when they would enjoy its best and plentiful fruits.

The phrase "by no means" relates to the context, and means: "You are wrong in thinking that you will be annihilated after death and you will not return to your Lord.”

Some commentators have taken the word saq (leg, shank) in its literal meaning, thereby implying that at death one lean leg will join the other lean leg; some others have taken it metaphorically in the sense of difficulty, vehemence and hardship so as to mean: At that tune one affliction will be joined with another affliction, one of being separated from the world and all its enjoyments, and the other of being seized and taken to the Hereafter as a culprit, and this will be experienced by every disbeliever, hypocrite and sinner.

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said concerning the interpretation of Allah's (Nay, I swear by the Day of Resurrection): '(Nay, I swear by the Day of Resurrection) He says: I swear that the Day of Resurrection will happen;