This sūrah of 96 verses was revealed in Makkah and takes its name from the word al-wāqi’ah in the first verse. It mentions some events that will take place during the destruction of the world, and the three groups that people will form in the Hereafter, according to their beliefs and deeds in the world. It also presents some proofs of God’s Existence and Oneness, and some characteristics of the Qur’ān.
- When the event to happen happens,
- There is no denying its happening
- Abasing some and exalting others;
- When the earth is shaken with a violent shock;
- And the mountains are shattered and crumble
- So they become dust scattered;
- You (all conscious, responsible beings) will be sorted out into three groups
- Thus: the people of the Right (the people of happiness and prosperity, who receive their Records in their right hands): how happy and prosperous are the people of the Right!
- And the people of the Left (the people of wretchedness, who will receive their Records in their left hands): how wretched are the people of the Left!
- And the foremost (in faith and good deeds, and serving God’s cause) will be the foremost (in receiving and enjoying God’s mercy).
- Those are the ones near-stationed to God,1
- Nearness to God means transcending corporeality and acquiring perfected spirituality, and, thereby, gaining proximity to God. It depends on true faith and can be acquired by doing whatever God has decreed as good and right. The obligatory and supererogatory religious duties, done with the consciousness that is their due, are like wings of light that carry one toward the “skies” of infinitude. A traveler to God enters new corridors leading to eternity on the wings of supererogatory duties, and is aware of being rewarded with new Divine gifts, which engender an even greater desire to do both the obligatory and the supererogatory duties. One awakened to this truth feels in his or her conscience the love of
God in direct proportion to his or her love of God. God declares:
My servant cannot come near to Me through anything else more lovable to Me than doing the obligatory religious duties. However, by doing supererogatory duties he comes nearer to Me, and when he comes nearer to Me, I will be his eyes to see with, his ears to hear with, his hands to grasp with, and his legs to walk on (al-Bukhārī, “Riqāq,” 38). That is, such a believer is directed to act by the Divine Will.
- In Gardens abounding in bounty and blessings.
- A good many of them are from among the first (to have embraced God’s Religion);
- And a few from the later (generations).2
2. As suggested in 52: 21 and explained in note 2 to this verse, particularly at the beginning of a new movement of faith launched by the Prophets and their true successors, those who attain faith first of all are generally more valued in God’s sight and will be the foremost in enjoying Paradise. They have outstripped others in believing and supporting God’s cause at a time when supporting it was the most difficult, and, therefore, suffered greater hardships than those that followed. They are usually more sincere in their faith and more devoted to God and His cause. A few people can reach their rank from among the later generations. This is also indicated in verse 9: 100, which gives the greatest rank to the first among the emigrants and the Helpers. God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, said that the best among his community were his companions, and then those who appeared among the first generation to follow them, and then those among the second generation— this is, of course, when one’s virtues are considered in general terms. There may always be in later generations those that outstrip the virtuous ones of the preceding generations in certain particular virtues. But in general terms, the best of all generations are the Prophet’s companions, and then the second generation who followed them, and then the third gen- eration who followed the latter.
- (They will be seated) on lined thrones (encrusted with gold and precious stones),
- Reclining upon them, facing one another.
- There will go round them immortal youths,3
3. These youths will be the children who died before reaching puberty. According to many scholars, the children of unbelievers will be admitted into Paradise and serve the people of Paradise (al-Qurtubī).
- With goblets, and ewers, and a cup from a clear-flowing spring,
- From which no aching of the head ensues, nor intoxication of the mind;
- And with fruits such as they choose,
- And with the flesh of fowls such as they desire;
- And (there will be) pure maidens, most beautiful of eye,
- Like pearls kept hidden (in their shells).
- A reward for all (the good) that they used to do.
- They will hear there neither vain talk nor accusing speech;
- (They will hear) only speech (wishing) peace and security after peace and security.
- And the people of the Right (the people of happiness and prosperity who will receive their Records in their right hands): how happy and prosperous are the people of the Right!
- Amidst cherry trees laden with fruit,
- And banana trees with fruit piled high,
- And shade long-extended,
- And water gushing (and flowing constantly),
- And fruits (of every other kind) abounding,
- Never cut off, nor forbidden;
- And (with them will be their) spouses, ennobled with beauty and spiritual perfection:4/5
- These are the women who died as Muslims and will be admitted into Paradise. They will be together with their spouses, who will be admitted into Paradise like them.
- All the blessings of Paradise mentioned so far, as well as the sufferings of Hell that will be cited below, are in the indefinite form. This signifies that although all those blessings and sufferings are cited in the Qur’ān in terms, and will be presented in Paradise in forms, that we are acquainted with here in this world, they will be different in character or nature; their nature will be peculiar to the other world. It is impossible for us to imagine them in their true nature (see 2: 25, and note 21).
- We have brought them into being in a new creation;
- And We have made them virgins,
- Full of love for their husbands, and equal in age:6
6. equality of age means either that the spouses will be equal in age with one another, or that men will be of the same age as one another and the women as one another. A Pro-
phetic Tradition says that men will be 33 years old and women 18 years old in Paradise, where there will be no aging (at-Tirmidhī, “Sifat al-Jannah,” 12; Ibn Hanbal, 2: 295).
- For the people of the Right (the people of happiness and prosperity):
- A good many of them are from among the first (to have embraced God’s Religion);
- And a good many are from the later (generations).
- And the people of the Left (who will be given their Records in their left hands): how wretched are the people of the Left!
- In the midst of scorching wind and hot, boiling water,
- And the shadow of black smoke,
- (A shadow) neither cooling nor refreshing.
- Indeed, before that, they were lost in excess of pleasures (without moral scruples);
- And would persist in committing the greatest sin (of unbelief or associating partners with God and denying the afterlife).
- And would say: “What? After we have died and become dust and bones, will we indeed be raised from the dead?
- “And also our forefathers of old?”
- Say: “Those of old and those of later times
- “Will all be brought together at an appointed time on a Day well-known.”
- Then: O you who have strayed (from the Straight Path), who deny (the afterlife),
- You will surely eat of the tree of Zaqqum;
- And you fill up your bellies with it.
- Thereafter you will drink of hot, boiling water;
- You will drink as the camel raging with thirst drinks.
- This will be their welcome on the Day of Judgment.
- It is We Who have created you. So will you not confirm as truth (what We convey to you as truth)?7
7. That is, We have created you, and maintain you in the world, and will cause you to die. We also know you and whatever you do and have it recorded. Again, We have not created you in vain; you are responsible beings. So why do you not confirm Our declaration that We will raise you from the dead for a new, eternal life?
- Have you considered the semen that you emit?
- Is it you who create it, or are We8 the creator?
8. The use of plural form of the pronoun and the verb for the Divine Being is to stress His Grandeur and absolute dominion of the creation.
- It is also We Who decree death among you9 – and We cannot be over- come—
9. That is, you do not die at random, or at the behest of another power, or as a natural end of your life. We have decreed death and cause you to die as a meaningful dimension of your life until eternity.
- So that We may replace you (with new generations like you), and bring you about in a new mode and form of existence you do not know.10
10. Through death, God continuously renews and refreshes the world and prepares a new, eternal world. So death, being a change of worlds only, discharges us from life’s hardships, which gradually become harder through old age. It releases us from worldly life, which is a turbulent, suffocating, narrow dungeon of space, and admits us to the wide circle of the eternal Beloved One’s Mercy, where we will enjoy a pleasant and everlasting life without suffering. God makes our other world out of our deeds in this world, so we must send there good deeds in order to be worthy of a happy life there.
- For certain you know the first creation (how you are brought into the world), then should you not reflect on (and anticipate the second creation)?
- Have you ever considered the seed you sow (in the ground)?
- Is it you who cause it to grow, or is it We Who make it grow?11
11. It is clear that the growth of a seed sown under the earth requires the ability of the seed to germinate and grow, and the cooperation with it, in the right proportions, of the earth, the sun, the air, and rain. This cooperation can evidently be created only by a Knowledge Which knows all of these elements and how they should cooperate for a seed to grow, and a Will Which decrees this cooperation, and a Power Which is able to accomplish all of that. No one other than the Absolutely Knowledgeable, Willing, and Powerful One can do that. Further, such a Being has no need of partners, and His having partners is absolutely inconceivable.
- If We so willed, We would surely make it into chaff, and then you would not cease to exclaim:
- “We are indeed in a great loss (with our money, time, and efforts gone to waste).
- “Rather, we are left utterly deprived (of our livelihood).”
- Have you ever considered the water that you drink?
- Is it you who send it down from the cloud or is it We Who send it down?
- If We so willed, We would make it bitter and salty. Then, should you not give thanks?12
12. Whatever God grants us is pure blessing and grace. So we must always be thankful to Him, and if He sometimes grants us less than our need, or even deprives us of our neces- sary provisions, we must never complain about Him; rather, we must complain to Him of our own selves. God may sometimes grant less in order to test us, and sometimes to remind us of the importance of His provision for us— that it is He Who provides for us. It even sometimes occurs that He grants us less to punish us for our sins that have caused this deprivation, and/or to warn us to repent and mend our ways. So whatever He decrees for us is for our own good, therefore requiring thanksgiving.
- Have you ever considered the fire that you kindle?
- Is it you who bring into being the tree for it, or is it We bring it into being?13
13. The origin of almost all kinds of fuel, including petrol is wood and/or plants, either directly or indirectly, through decay under the ground. This verse particularly refers to the trees of Markh and ‘Afār, which grow in the Arabian desert and from which people kindle fire (see 36: 80, note 24).
- We have made it something for reflection (on Our handiwork and Our grace in making the creation useful and beautiful), and a comfort (especially) for the dwellers (and wayfarers) in the desert.
- Therefore, glorify the Name of your Lord, the Supreme (declaring His being absolutely above having any defects and partners).
- I swear by the locations of the stars (and their falling),
- It is indeed a very great oath, if you but knew.14
14. Modern interpreters of the Qur’ān assert that by the locations of the stars, the Qur’ān alludes to the white holes (quasars) and black holes in the sky. These are the locations of stars that have, to date, been found in the universe. Quasars store incredible amounts of energy, enough to form galaxies (assemblages of billions of stars). As for the black holes, they form as a result of the collapse of a star. They cannot be seen but are recognized by the fact that they devour all radiation and stars that pass nearby, and cause an indirect emis- sion of gamma rays and X-rays, and by the fact that time is suddenly dilated in its vicinity.
These star locations are regions of gravitational shock or collapse and of equilibrium in the universe.
- Most certainly it is a Qur’an (recited) most honorable,
- In a Book well-guarded.15
15. This Book is the Supreme Preserved Tablet (85: 22). For the Supreme Preserved Tab- let, see 6: 59, note 13; 13: 39, note 13; 17: 14, note 10.
- None except the purified ones can reach it (to obtain the knowledge it contains. And none except those cleansed of material and spiritual impurities should touch it).16
16. This verse expresses both a reality and an order. In expressing a reality, it means that none except the purified ones (the angels and the human beings whom God has purified, such as the Prophets) can reach the well-guarded Book (the Supreme Preserved Tablet) to attain any knowledge that is contained in it. Such beings as devils cannot reach it. When- ever they make any attempt to ascend through the heavens, they are expelled (see 15: 18, note 5; 26: 212, note 37; 67: 5, note 4). In expressing an order, it means that none except those who have purified themselves from any material impurity by taking minor or major ablution, and those purified from the spiritual impurity of unbelief and the association of partners with God, should touch the Qur’ān. Both the syntax of the verse and the words used equally give both meanings.
- It is a Book being sent down in parts from the Lord of the worlds.
- Is it this Discourse that you hold in low esteem?
- And do you make your share of it denying it?
- Then, how is it you do not – when the soul comes up to the throat (of a dy- ing human),
- While you are looking on –
- And while We are nearer to him (the dying human) than you are, but you do not see (that) –
- Then, how is it you do not – if you are not bound to Us in dependence (subject to Our will) –
- (How is it that) you do not restore the soul (of that dying human), if you are truthful (in your claim)?
- Now, if he (that dying human) is of those near-stationed to God,
- Then (there is for him) comfort in eternal relief (from all kinds of hardships
and pains), and abundance, and a Garden of bounty and blessing.
- If he is of the people of the Right (the people of happiness and prosperity who will receive their Records in their right hands),
- Then “Peace be upon you” (will be what you will always hear) from the people of the Right.
- But if he is one of those who denied (Our Message and Our Messengers), who strayed (from the Straight Path),
- Then his entertainment is boiling water
- And roasting in a Blazing Flame.
- Surely this (Qur’an) is certain truth.
- So glorify the Name of your Lord, the Supreme (affirming that He is exalted above any falsehood).