81 - At Takwir (The folding up)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 81.1

Al-Jalalayn

When the sun is folded away, enfolded and stripped of its light,

Ibn Al Kathir

What will happen on the Day of Judgement, and that is the rolling up of the Sun

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported from Ibn `Abbas:

إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

(When the sun is Kuwwirat.) "This means it will be darkened.'' Al-`Awfi reported from Ibn `Abbas; "It will go away.'' Qatadah said, "Its light will go away.'' Sa`id bin Jubayr said, "Kuwwirat means it will sink in.'' Abu Salih said, "Kuwwirat means it will be thrown down.'' At-Takwir means to gather one part of something with another part of it (i.e., folding). From it comes the folding of the turban (`Imamah) and the folding of clothes together. Thus, the meaning of Allah's statement,

كُوِّرَتْ

(Kuwwirat) is that part of it will be folded up into another part of it. Then it will be rolled up and thrown away. When this is done to it, its light will go away. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said,

«الشَّمْسُ وَالْقَمَرُ يُكَوَّرَانِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَة»

(The sun and the moon will be rolled up on the Day of Judgement.) Al-Bukhari was alone in recording this Hadith and this is his wording of it.

Dispersing the Stars

وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انكَدَرَتْ

(And when the stars Inkadarat.) meaning, when they are scattered. This is as Allah says,

وَإِذَا الْكَوَاكِبُ انتَثَرَتْ

(And when the stars have fallen and scattered.) (82:2) The basis of the word Inkidar is Insibab, which means to be poured out. Ar-Rabi` bin Anas reported from Abu Al-`Aliyah, who reported from Ubayy bin Ka`b that he said, "Six signs will take place before the Day of Judgement. The people will be in their marketplaces when the sun's light will go away. When they are in that situation, the stars will be scattered. When they are in that situation, the mountains will fall down upon the face of the earth, and the earth will move, quake and be in a state of mixed up confusion. So the Jinns will then flee in fright to the humans and the humans will flee to the Jinns. The domestic beasts, birds and wild animals will mix together, and they will surge together in a wave (of chaos).

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ

(And when the wild beasts are gathered together.) This means they will be mixed.

وَإِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

(And when the pregnant she camels are neglected;) This means their owners will neglect them.

وَإِذَا الْبِحَارُ سُجِّرَتْ

(And when the seas become as blazing fire)'' Then he (Ubayy) went on to say, "The Jinns will say, `We come to you with news.' So they will all go to the sea, and it will be a blazing fire. While they are in that state, the earth will be split with one huge crack that will extend from the lowest, seventh earth to the highest, seventh heaven. So while they are in that state, a wind will come that will kill all of them.'' Ibn Jarir recorded this narration with this wording.

Moving of the Mountains, abandoning of the Pregnant She-Camels, and the gathering of the Wild Beasts

Concerning Allah's statement,

وَإِذَا الْجِبَالُ سُيِّرَتْ

(And when the mountains are made to pass away;) meaning, they will not remain in their places and they will be destroyed. Then the earth will be left as a flat, level plain. Then Allah says,

وَإِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ

(And when the pregnant she-camels (`Ishar) are neglected (`Uttilat);) `Ikrimah and Mujahid said, "`Ishar are (pregnant she-) camels.'' Mujahid said, "`Uttilat means abandoned and left.'' Ubayy bin Ka`b and Ad-Dahhak both said, "Their owners will neglect them.'' Ar-Rabi` bin Khuthaym said, "They will not be milked or tied up. Their masters will leave them abandoned.'' Ad-Dahhak said, "They will be left with no one to tend to them.'' And the meaning of all of these statements is similar. What is intended is that the `Ishar is a type of camel. It is actually the best type of camel, and particularly the pregnant females of them when they have reached the tenth month of their pregnancies. One of them is singularly referred to as `Ushara', and she keeps that name until she gives birth. So the people will be too busy to tend to her, take care of her or benefit from her, after she used to be the most important thing to them. This will be due to what will suddenly overtake them of the great, terrifying and horrible situation. This is the matter of the Day of Judgement, the coming together of its causes, and the occurrence of those things that will happen before it.

وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ

(And when the wild beasts are gathered together.) meaning, gathered. This is as Allah says,

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَلاَ طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَـلُكُمْ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى الكِتَـبِ مِن شَىْءٍ ثُمَّ إِلَى رَبِّهِمْ يُحْشَرُونَ

(There is not a moving creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they shall be gathered.) (6:38) Ibn `Abbas said, "Everything will be gathered, even the flies.'' This statement was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Allah also says,

وَالطَّيْرَ مَحْشُورَةً

(And (so did) the birds assembled.) 38:19meaning, gathered.

The Blazing of the Seas

Allah says,

وَإِذَا الْبِحَارُ سُجِّرَتْ

(And when the seas become as blazing fire.) Ibn Jarir recorded from Sa`id bin Al-Musayyib that `Ali said to a Jewish man, "Where is the Hell'' The man said, "The sea.'' `Ali then said, "I think he is truthful, as Allah says

وَالْبَحْرِ الْمَسْجُورِ

(And by the seas kindled (Masjur).) (52:6) and;

وَإِذَا الْبِحَارُ سُجِّرَتْ

(And when the seas become as blazing fire.)'' This has already been discussed previously with the explanation of Allah's statement,

وَالْبَحْرِ الْمَسْجُورِ

(And by the seas kindled (Masjur).) (52:6)

Joining the Souls

Concerning Allah's statement,

وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ

(And when the souls are joined with their mates.) meaning, every type (of soul) will be gathered with its peer (or mate). This is as Allah says,

احْشُرُواْ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ وَأَزْوَجَهُمْ

(It will be said to the angels): "Assemble those who did wrong, together with their companions (from the devils).) (37:22) Ibn Abi Hatim recorded from An-Nu`man bin Bashir that the Messenger of Allah said,

وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ

الضُّرَبَاءُ: كُلُّ رَجُلٍ مَعَ كُلِّ قَوْمٍ كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ عَمَلَهُ وَذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ:

وَكُنتُمْ أَزْوَاجاً ثَلَـثَةً - فَأَصْحَـبُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ مَآ أَصْحَـبُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ - وَأَصْحَـبُ الْمَشْـَمَةِ مَآ أَصْحَـبُ الْمَشْـَمَةِ - وَالسَّـبِقُونَ السَّـبِقُونَ

هُمُ الضُّرَبَاء»

((And When the souls are joined with their mates.)( Those who are alike. Every man will be with every group of people who performed the same deeds that he did. (This is because Allah says, (And you (all) will be in three groups. So those on the Right Hand - how (fortunate) will be those on Right Hand! And those on the Left Hand - how (unfortunate) will be those on the Left Hand!) (56: 7-10) (They are those who are alike.)

Questioning the Female Infant Who was buried Alive

Allah says,

وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ - بِأَىِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَتْ

(And when the female infant (Al-Maw'udah) buried alive is questioned: For what sin was she killed) The majority have recited it as Su'ilat (she is questioned), as it is here. Al-Maw'udah is the female infant that the people of the pre-Islamic time of ignorance would bury in the dirt due to their hatred of girls. Therefore, on the Day of Judgement, the female infant will be asked what sin she committed that caused here to be murdered. This will be a means of frightening her murderer. For verily, if the one who was wronged is questioned, what does the wrongdoer (the one who is guilty of the oppression) think then `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said,

وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ

(And when the female infant (Al-Maw'udah) buried alive Su'ilat:) "This means that she will ask.'' Abu Ad-Duha made a similar statement when he said, "She will ask, meaning she will demand restitution for her blood.'' The same has been reported from As-Suddi and Qatadah. Hadiths have been reported concerning the Maw'udah. Imam Ahmad recorded from `A'ishah, who reported from Judamah bint Wahb, the sister of `Ukkashah, that she said, "I was in the presence of the Messenger of Allah when he was with some people, and he said,

«لَقَدْ هَمَمْتُ أَنْ أَنْهَى عَنِ الْغِيلَةِ فَنَظَرْتُ فِي الرُّومِ وَفَارِسَ، فَإِذَا هُمْ يُغِيلُونَ أَوْلَادَهُمْ، وَلَا يَضُرُّ أَوْلَادَهُمْ ذلِكَ شَيْئًا»

(I was about to prohibit sexual relations with breast feeding women, but then I saw that the Romans and the Persians have sexual relations with their women who breast feed their children and it does not harm the children at all.) Then they asked him about interruption of sexual intercourse to prevent the male discharge from entering the womb of the woman, and he said,

«ذلِكَ الْوَأْدُ الْخَفِيُّ، وَهُوَ الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَت»

(That is the minor infanticide and it is the female infant buried alive (Maw'udah) that will be questioned.)'' Muslim, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa'i, all recorded this Hadith as well.

The Atonement for burying Infant Girls Alive

`Abdur-Razzaq said that Isra'il informed them from Simak bin Harb, from An-Nu`man bin Bashir, who reported from `Umar bin Al-Khattab that he said concerning Allah's statement,

وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ

(And when the female infant buried alive is questioned.) "Qays bin `Asim came to the Messenger of Allah and said, `O Messenger of Allah! Verily, I buried some daughters of mine alive in the period of pre-Islamic ignorance.' The Messenger of Allah said,

«أَعْتِقْ عَنْ كُلِّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِنْهُنَّ رَقَبَة»

(Free a slave for each one of them.) Then Qays said, `O Messenger of Allah! Verily, I am an owner of camels.' The Prophet said,

«فَانْحَرْ عَنْ كُلِّ وَاحِدَةٍ مِنْهُنَّ بَدَنَة»

(Then sacrifice a camel for each one of them.)''

The Distribution of the Pages

Allah says,

وَإِذَا الصُّحُفُ نُشِرَتْ

(And when the pages are laid open.) Ad-Dahhak said, "Every person will be given his paper in his right hand or in his left hand.'' Qatadah said, "O Son of Adam ! It (your paper) is written in, then it is rolled up, then it will be distributed to you on the Day of Judgement. So let each man look at what he himself dictated to be written in his paper.''

Removing the Heavens, kindling Hellfire, and Paradise being brought near

Allah says,

وَإِذَا السَّمَآءُ كُشِطَتْ

(And when the heaven is Kushitat;) Mujahid said, "It drawns away.'' As-Suddi said, "Stripped off.'' Concerning Allah's statement,

وَإِذَا الْجَحِيمُ سُعِّرَتْ

(And when Hell is Su`irat.) As-Suddi said, "It is heated.'' In reference to Allah's statement,

وَإِذَا الْجَنَّةُ أُزْلِفَتْ

(And when Paradise is brought near.) Ad-Dahhak, Abu Malik, Qatadah, and Ar-Rabi` bin Khuthaym, all said, "This means it will be brought near to its inhabitants.''

Everyone will know what He has brought on the Day of Judgement Concerning

Allah's statement,

عَلِمَتْ نَفْسٌ مَّآ أَحْضَرَتْ

(Every person will know what he has brought.) This is the conclusive response of the previous statements, meaning at the time these matters occur, every soul will know what it has done, and that will be brought forth for it, as Allah says,

يَوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُّحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدَا بَعِيدًا

(On the Day when every person will be confronted with all the good he has done, and all the evil he has done, he will wish that there were a great distance between him and his evil.) (3:30) Allah also says,

يُنَبَّأُ الإِنسَـنُ يَوْمَئِذِ بِمَا قَدَّمَ وَأَخَّرَ

(On that Day man will be informed of what he sent forward, and what he left behind.) (75:13)

Kashf Al-Asrar

When the sun is enwrapped, and when the stars become opaque, and when the moun- tains are set moving...

MuṣṬafā said that if someone wants to see the Greatest Resurrection as hard cash, such that the states of the resurrection may become apparent to him, he should be told to recite When the sun is enwrapped so that the harshness and difficulty of that day may be known to him. How much can be shown of the terror and difficulty of that day? The fire of unneediness will be lit in the vestiges and traces of the realm of being and the head of the passing days will be lopped off by the sickle of severity. The world of new arrival will be made scattered dust [25:23], and the sword of harshness will be struck against the top of the spheres. The dust of the others will be swept from the skirt, and the harness of making nonexistent will be pulled over the head of the steed of existence. The luminous sun will be blackened and enwrapped, the shining stars will fall from heaven like rain, the mountains with their hardness and firm fixity will begin to run, having become weightless in fear of the Real. In terror of the resurrection the world's folk will give up their treasures and valuables and turn their backs on them. The beasts, birds, and predators for whom the Law is not prescribed will give up their spirits. The oceans of the world will be opened to each other and become boiling water and filth to chastise the enemies. Everyone and everybody will be paired and joined with his own deeds.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

This is a matchless metaphor for causing the sun to lose its light. Takwir means to fold up; hence takwir al- `amamah for folding up the turban on the head. Here, the light which radiates from the sun and spreads throughout the solar system has been likened to the turban and it has been said that on the Resurrection Day the turban will be folded up about the sun and its radiation will fade.

That is, when the force which is keeping them in their orbits and positions is loosened and all the stars and planets will scatter in the universe. The word inkidar also indicates that they will not only scatter away but will also grow dark.

In other words, the earth also will lose its force of gravity because of which the mountains have weight and are firmly set in the earth. Thus, when there is no more gravity the mountains will be uprooted from their places and becoming weightless will start moving and flying as the clouds move in the atmosphere.

This was by far the best way of giving an idea of the severities and horrors of Resurrection to the Arabs. Before the buses and trucks of the present day there was nothing more precious for the Arabs than the she-camel just about to give birth to her young. In this state she was most sedulously looked after and cared for, so that she is not lost, stolen, or harmed in any way. The people's becoming heedless of such she-camels, in fact, meant that at that time they would be so stunned as to become unmindful of their most precious possessions.

When a general calamity befalls the world, all kinds of beasts and animals gather together in one place. Then neither the snake bites, nor the tiger kills and devours.

The word sujjirat as used in the original in passive voice from tasjir in the past tense. Tasjir means to kindle fire in the oven. Apparently it seems strange that on the Resurrection Day fire would blaze up in the oceans. But if the truth about water is kept in view, nothing would seem strange. It is a miracle of God that He combined oxygen and hydrogen, one of which helps kindle the fire and the other gets kindled of itself and by the combination of both He created a substance like water which is used to put out fire. A simple manifestation of Allah's power is enough to change this composition of water so that the two gases are separated and begin to burn and help cause a blaze, which is their basic characteristic.

From here begins mention of the second stage of Resurrection.

That is, men will be resurrected precisely in the state as they lived in the world before death with body and soul together.

The style of this verse reflects an intensity of rage and fury inconceivable in common life. The parents who buried their daughters alive, would be so contemptible in the-sight of Allah that they would not be asked: "Why did you kill the innocent infant?" But disregarding them the innocent girl will be asked: "For what crime were you slain?" And she will tell her story how cruelly she had been treated by her barbarous parents and buried alive. Besides, two vast themes have been compressed into this brief verse, which though not expressed in words, are reflected by its style and tenor. First that in it the Arabs have been made to realize what depths of moral depravity they have touched because of their ignorance in that they buried their own children alive; yet they insist that they would persist in the same ignorance and would not accept the reform that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) was trying to bring about in their corrupted society. Second, that an express argument has been given in it of the necessity and inevitability of the Hereafter. The case of the infant girl who was buried alive, should be decided and settled justly at some tune, and there should necessarily be a time when the cruel people who committed this heinous crime, should be called to account for it, for there was none in the world to hear the cries of complaint raised by the poor soul. This act was looked upon with approval by the depraved society; neither the parents felt any remorse for it, nor anybody in the family censured them, nor the society took any notice of it. Then, should this monstrosity remain wholly unpunished in the Kingdom of God?

This barbaric custom of burying the female infants alive had become widespread in ancient Arabia for different reasons. One reason was economic hardship because of which the people wanted to have fewer dependents so that they should not have to bear the burden of bringing up many children. Male offspring were brought up in the hope that they would later help in earning a living, but the female offspring were killed for the fear that they would have to be reared till they matured and then given away in marriage. Second, the widespread chaos because of which the male children were brought up in order to have more and more helpers and supporters; but daughters were killed because in tribal wars they had to be protected instead of being useful in any way for defense. Third, another aspect of the common chaos also was that when the hostile tribes raided each other and captured girls they would either keep them as slave-girls or sell them to others. For these reasons the practice that had become common in Arabia was that at childbirth a pit was kept dug out ready for use by the woman so that if a girl was born, she was immediately cast into it and buried alive. And if sometimes the mother was not inclined to act thus, or the people of the family disapproved of it, the father would rear her for some time half-heartedly, and then finding time would take her to the desert to be buried alive. This tyranny and hard-heartedness was once described by a person before the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) himself. According to a Hadith related in the first chapter of Sunan Darimi, a man came to the Holy Prophet and related this incident of his pre-Islamic days of ignorance: "I had a daughter who was much attached to me. When I called her, she would come running to me. One day I called her and took her out with me. On the way we came across a well. Holding her by the hand I pushed her into the well. Her last words that I heard were: Oh father, oh father!!" Hearing this the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) wept and tears started falling from his eyes One of those present on the occasion said: O man, you have grieved the Holy Prophet. The Holy Prophet said: Do not stop him, let him question about what he feels so strongly now. Then the Holy Prophet asked him to narrate his story once again. When he narrated it again the Holy Prophet wept so bitterly that his beard became we with tears. Then he said to the man: "Allah has forgiven that you did in the days of ignorance: now turn to Him in repentance.'

It is not correct to think that the people of Arabia had no feeling of the baseness of this hideous, inhuman act. Obviously, no society, however corrupted it may be, can be utterly devoid of the feeling that such tyrannical acts are evil. That is why the Holy Qur'an has not dwelt upon the vileness of this act, but has only referred to it in awe-inspiring words to the effect: "A time will come when the girl who was buried alive, will be asked for what crime she was slain?" The history of Arabia also shows that many people in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance had a feeling that the practice was vile and wicked. According to Tabarani, Sa`sa'ah bin Najiyah al-Mujashi`i, grandfather of the poet, Farazdaq, said to the Holy Prophet: "O Messenger of Allah, during the days of ignorance I have done some good works also among which one is that I saved 360 girls from being buried alive: I gave two camels each as ransom to save their lives. Shall I get any reward for this?" The Holy Prophet replied; "Yes, there is a reward for you, and it is this that Allah has blessed you with Islam."

As a matter of fact, a great blessing of the blessings of Islam is that it not only did put an end to this inhuman practice in Arabia but even wiped out the concept that the birth of a daughter was in any way a calamity, which should be endured unwillingly. On the contrary, Islam taught that bringing up daughters, giving them good education and enabling them to become good housewives, is an act of great merit and virtue. The way the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) changed the common concept of the people in respect of girls can be judged from his many sayings which have been reported in the Hadith. As for example, we reproduce some of these below:

"The person who is put to a test because of the birth of the daughters and then he treats them generously, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell." (Bukhari, Muslim).

"The one who brought up two girls till they attained their maturity, will appear along with me on the Resurrection Day... Saying this the Holy Prophet jointed and raised his fingers. (Muslim).

"The one who brought up three daughters, or sisters, taught then good manners and treated them with kindness until they became self-sufficient. Allah will make Paradise obligatory for him. A man asked: what about two, O Messenger of Allah? The Holy Prophet replied: the same for two." Ibn `Abbas, the reporter of the Hadith, says: "Had the people at that time asked in respect of one daughter, the Holy Prophet would have also given the same reply about her. " (Sharh as-Sunnh).

"The one who has a daughter born to him and he does not bury her alive, nor keeps her in disgrace, nor prefers his son to her, Allah will admit him to Paradise." (Abu Da'ud).

"The one who has three daughters born to him, and he is patient over them, and clothes them well according to his means, they will become a means of rescue for him from Hell. " (Bukhari, Al-Adab al-Mufrad, Ibn Majah).

"The Muslim who has two daughters and he looks after them well, they will lead him to Paradise." (Bukhari: Al-Adab al-Mufrad).

This is the teaching which completely changed the viewpoint of the people about girls not only in Arabia but among all the nations of the world, which later become blessed with Islam.

That is, everything which is hidden from view now will become visible. Now one can only see empty space, or the clouds, hanging dust, the moon, the sun or stars, but at that time the Kingdom of God will appear in full view before the people, without any veil in between, in its true reality.

That is, in the Plain of Resurrection, when the hearing of the cases of the people will be in progress, the blazing fire of Hell also will be in full view, and Paradise also with all its blessings will be visible to all, so that the wicked should know what they are being deprived of and where they are going to be cast, and the righteous as well should know what they are being saved from and with what being blessed and honored.

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 sun is overthrown): '(When the sun is overthrown) it is also said that He says: when the sun is turned around as one turns a turban and is then thrown into the veil of light; it is also said this means: when the light of the sun vanishes.