Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas who said in explaining Allah's words (O mankind!): '(O mankind!) this expression could be of general applicability ('amm) as it could be of particular applicability (khass); here, it is an expression of general applicability. (Fear your Lord) and obey him. (Lo! the earthquake of the Hour (of Doom)) the advent of the Hour (is a tremendous thing) its horror is horrendous.
O people, be wary of your Lord-surely the quaking of the Hour is a tremendous thing.
O people is a vocative, and O you have faith is a call of generosity. The vocative is for the common people, and the call of generosity is for the elect. The vocative is for striking fear and warning, and the call of generosity is for bestowing eminence and giving good news.
Be wary of your Lord is two words, one severity, the other gentleness. Be wary is severity, which He drives home with His justice. Your Lord is gentleness, which He shows through His bounty. He keeps the servant between severity and gentleness so that he will live in fear and hope. When he is in fear, he looks at his own activity and weeps. When he is in hope, he looks at God's gentleness and is delighted.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, when I look at myself, I ask who is more miserable than
I. When I look at You, I ask who is greater than I.”
When the servant looks at his own activity, he says with the tongue of contempt and in beatenness and brokenness,
“My two eyes full of water, my liver full of fire, my hands full of wind, my head full of dust!”
When he looks at the divine gentleness and the lordly bounty, he says with the tongue of happiness and the blessing of gratitude,
“What does the Throne do that it does not carry my saddlecloth? In my heart I carry the saddlecloth of Your ruling and decree.
The scent of the spirit comes to my lips when I speak of You,
the branch of exaltedness grows from my heart when I suffer Your trial.”
Surely the quaking of the Hour is a tremendous thing. The quaking of the resurrection and the harshness of the resurrection-how can this be explained and what mark can be given of it? For the Exalted Lord says it is “a tremendous thing.” It is a day, and what a day! It is a work, and what a work! It is a day of the bazaar, and what a day of the bazaar! The pavilion of exaltedness will be raised in the desert of power, the carpet of tremendousness spread, the balance of justice hung, the path of straightness drawn out.
All the eloquent tongues will be silent and dumb, all excuses will be nullified, for this is a day in which they do not speak, nor will they be given permission to offer excuses [77:35-36]. How many curtains will be torn on that day! How many lineages will be broken on that day! How many with white-faces will become black-faced on that day! How many of the pious will be disgraced! How many hats of good fortune will be thrown in the dust of abasement! How many edicts of sultans will be stamped with the signet of dismissal! For the command that day will belong to God [82:19]. How many fathers will be lamenting in the depths of hell, their children strolling in the meadows of paradise! No father will suffice for his child, nor will any child suffice in anything for his father [31:33].
At the harshness of that day Adam will come forward: “Lord God, let Adam go, and do as You know with his children.” Noah will lament, “Lord God, have mercy on my weakness and helplessness!” Abraham the bosom friend, Moses the speaking companion, and Jesus the spirit of God-each will be helpless in himself and be saying with the tongue of poverty in the state of brokenness, “Myself, myself!”
Then the master of the first and the last, the lamp of heaven and earth, the chosen and approved of the Lord of the Worlds, MuḤammad, will come forth in that desert of the resurrection like a full moon and the whole world will be brightened and the spheres a rose garden. When the master shows his beauty and perfection and the glitter of the light of his face reaches the world of the resurrection, felicity and security will appear for the folk of faith. Just as the moon passes by the stars in the spheres, on that day the paragon of the world will pass by the faithful and keep on gazing on their faces, and he will intercede for the folk of faith. Thy Lord shall bestow upon thee so that thou shalt approve [93:5].
O mankind, that is, the inhabitants of Mecca and others: fear your Lord, that is, of His punishment, by being obedient to Him. Surely the earthquake of the Hour [of Doom], that is, the violent quaking of the earth after which the sun will rise from the west, [something] which will be near [the time of] the Hour, is a tremendous thing, in the way it will distress people — this itself being a sort of punishment.
(Do you know what Day that is) They said, "Allah and His Messenger know best.'' (He said: That is the Day on which Allah will say to Adam, "Send forth (those of your progeny) who are to be sent to the Fire.'' He will say, "O Lord, how many are to be sent to the Fire'' He will say, "From every thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine will be in the Fire and one will be in Paradise.'') The Muslims started to weep, then the Messenger of Allah said:
(Be close in your rank and be straight forward, for there was never any Prophet but there was a time of ignorance just before his advent, so the number will be taken from that time of ignorance, and if that is not enough, it will be made up from the hypocrites. A parable of yours in comparison to the other nations is that, you are like a mark on the foreleg of an animal, or a mole on the flank of a camel.) Then he said,
(I hope that you will be half of the people of Paradise.) They said, "Allahu Akbar!'' Then he the narrator said, "I do not know if he said two-thirds or not.'' This was also recorded by Imam Ahmad. Then At-Tirmidhi also said, "This is a Hasan Sahih Hadith.'' In his Tafsir, under this Ayah, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Sa`id said, "The Prophet said:
(On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say: "O Adam.'' He will say, "At Your service, O Lord.'' Then a voice will call out: "Allah commands you to send forth from your progeny those who are destined for the Fire.'' He will say, "O Lord, who is destined for the Fire'' He will say, "From every thousand'' -- I think he said -- "nine hundred and ninety-nine.'' At that time every pregnant female will drop her load and children will turn grey. (and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but Allah's torment is severe.)) That will be so difficult for mankind to bear that their faces will change. The Prophet said:
(Nine hundred and ninety-nine from Ya'juj and Ma'juj, and one from you. Among mankind you are like a black hair on the side of a white bull, or a white hair on the side of a black bull. I hope that you will be one quarter of the people of Paradise.) We said "Allahu Akbar!'' Then he said, (A third of the people of Paradise.) We said, "Allahu Akbar!'' Then he said, (One half of the people of Paradise.) We said: `Allahu Akbar!'' Al-Bukhari also recorded this elsewhere. It was also recorded by Muslim, and An-Nasa'i in his Tafsir. The Hadiths and reports about the terrors of the Day of Resurrection are very many, and this is not the place to quote them all.
إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَىْءٌ عَظِيمٌ
(Verily, the earthquake of the Hour is a terrible thing.) means, a serious matter, a terrifying crisis, a horrendous event. This earthquake is what will happen to people when they are filled with terror, as Allah says:
(The Day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursling,) means, she will be distracted by the horror of what she is seeing, which will make her forget the one who is the dearest of all to her and to whom she shows the most compassion. Her shock will make her neglect her infant at the very moment of breastfeeding, Allah says,
(every nursing mother), and He did not say a mother who has an infant of breastfeeding age.
(her nursling) means, her nursing infant that has not yet been weaned.
وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا
(and every pregnant one will drop her load,) means, before the pre- gnancy has reached full term, because of the intensity of the horror.
وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَـرَى
(and you shall see mankind as in a drunken state,) means, because of the severity of their situa- tion, when they will lose their minds, so that whoever sees them, will think, that they are drunk,
(yet they will not be drunken, but Allah's torment is severe.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
According to the early commentators, this earthquake will be a prelude to Resurrection. This will probably take place when the earth will begin to rotate in the reverse order, and the sun will rise in the west. In a lengthy Tradition reported by Ibn Jarir, 'Tabarani and Ibn Abi Hatim from Abu Hurairah, the Holy Prophet has stated that when the first Trumpet will be blown, there will be a general confusion; at the second all people will die and at the third they will be brought back to life and presented before Allah. At the first blowing of the Trumpet, the earth will begin to rock like a boat which is beaten about by huge waves, or like a hanging lamp which is moved from side to side by a strong wind.
This condition has been depicted in the Qur'an at several other places. For instance LVI: 6; LXIX: 13-14; LXXIII: 14, 17-18; LXXIX : 6-9 and XCIX: 1-3.
According to other commentators, this earthquake will occur when the dead will be brought back to life and presented before their Lord. Though this is supported by some Traditions, we prefer the first interpretation (in spite of the fact that the Tradition reported by Abu Hurairah is "weak") because that is supported by clear verses of the Qur'an.
This is to show the intensity and honor of the earthquake. At that time there will be so much confusion acid terror that mothers will forsake their dear children at the very time they will be suckling them.
It should be noted that it is not meant to depict here the condition of the Resurrection but to impress upon the people the dreadful torment of the Hour in order to admonish them to mend their ways. This is supported by the subsequent passage.