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Surahs Muzzammil and Muddaththir
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Surah Muzzammil and Surah Muddaththir form a pair with regard to their subject-matter. The first surah directs the Prophet (sws) to prepare himself for bearing the burden of a heavy responsibility, while the second one explains this responsibility: after indhar (warning), the first phase of his preaching mission, he should now launch the next phase of indhar-i ‘am (open warning) to his people.

Both surahs are addressed to the Prophet (sws) and also to his addressees: the leadership of the Quraysh.

It is evident from the subject-matter of these surahs that with their revelation in Makkah began the phase of indhar-i ‘am of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sws) preaching mission.

The theme of Surah al-Muzzammil is to direct the Prophet (sws) to abandon his state of sorrow resulting from the reaction of his people and prepare to bear the burden of a heavy responsibility, and to admonish the leadership of the Quraysh that they have very little time left; if they do not mend their ways, they should get ready to face the consequences.

The theme of Surah al-Muddaththtir is to explain the responsibility of indhar-i ‘am to the Prophet (sws) with its requirements and limits and to threaten and rebuke his addressees that the Day of Judgement the Prophet (sws) has now been directed to openly warn them of must not be regarded by them as something trivial. It is a day which will not be easy upon its rejecters and it is a reality which can neither be denied nor evaded through any intercession whatsoever.



بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ. قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيْلًا. نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيْلًا. أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيْلًا. إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيْلًا. إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْاً وَأَقْوَمُ قِيْلًا. إِنَّ لَكَ فِي اَلنَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيْلًا. وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ إِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيْلًا. رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيْلًا. وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا يَقُوْلُوْنَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيْلًا. وَذَرْنِي وَالْمُكَذِّبِيْنَ أُولِي النَّعْمَةِ وَمَهِّلْهُمْ قَلِيْلًا. إِنَّ لَدَيْنَا أَنكَالًا وَجَحِيْمًا. وَطَعَامًا ذَا غُصَّةٍ وَعَذَابًا أَلِيْمًا. يَوْمَ تَرْجُفُ الْأَرْضُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَكَانَتِ الْجِبَالُ كَثِيْبًا مَّهِيْلًا.

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

O you enwrapped in your shawl!1 Stand by night,2 but a little. Half the night or even less or a little more and [in this prayer of yours] recite the Qur’an in a measured tone.3 This is because soon We shall lay on you the burden of a heavy word.4 This rising by night is very suitable for the heart’s resolve5 and for the speech’s correctness.6 This is because during the daytime you will be hard-pressed with [this task; so, pray at this time], and remember the name of your Lord,7 and [in this seclusion of the night] devote yourself entirely to Him.8 He is the Lord of the East and the West. There is no deity but Him. Therefore, take Him alone as your Guardian, bear with patience what they say, graciously ignore them9 and leave the matter of these deniers who enjoy the comforts of life10 to Me and give them a little respite.11 We have in store [for them] heavy fetters and a blazing fire, and choking food and a painful torment also on the day when the earth and the mountains shall tremble violently and the mountains shall be as if they are disbanding heaps of sand. (1-14)


إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُوْلًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُوْلًا. فَعَصَى فِرْعَوْنُ الرَّسُوْلَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُ أَخْذًا وَبِيْلًا. فَكَيْفَ تَتَّقُوْنَ إِن كَفَرْتُمْ يَوْمًا يَجْعَلُ الْوِلْدَانَ شِيْبًا. السَّمَآءُ مُنفَطِرٌ بِهِ كَانَ وَعْدُهُ مَفْعُوْلًا. إِنَّ هَذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَنْ شَآءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ سَبِيْلًا.

To you [O Quraysh of Makkah!] We have sent forth a Messenger as a witness to you just as We had sent a Messenger to the Pharaoh.12 Then as the Pharaoh disobeyed that Messenger, We seized him with a dreadful punishment. So, if you also deny, then how will you save yourselves from the day which shall turn the children old.13 The heavens are ripping apart with its burden,14 and the promise of God is certain to be fulfilled. [Before that,] this is a reminder. So, whoever wills may take the path to His Lord. (15-19)


إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ تَقُومُ أَدْنَى مِنْ ثُلُثَيِ اللَّيْلِ وَنِصْفَهُ وَثُلُثَهُ وَطَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ مَعَكَ وَاللَّهُ يُقَدِّرُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ عَلِمَ أَن لَّنْ تُحْصُوهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْرَؤُوْا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ عَلِمَ أَن سَيَكُوْنُ مِنْكُمْ مَّرْضَى وَآخَرُوْنَ يَضْرِبُوْنَ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَبْتَغُوْنَ مِنْ فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَآخَرُونَ يُقَاتِلُوْنَ فِي سَبِيْلِ اللَّهِ فَاقْرَؤُوْا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوْا لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوْهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ هُوَ خَيْرًا وَأَعْظَمَ أَجْرًا وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُوْرٌ رَّحِيْمٌ.


[O Prophet! We had enjoined upon you to stand by night.15] Your Lord well knows that sometimes you stand almost two thirds of the night [before him], sometimes half and sometimes one third of it, and so does a group among your companions. God alone [keeping in regard the need of people] appoints the day and night in due measure.16 He knew that you people would not be able to follow this [routine]. So, He turned towards you mercifully.17 Hence, recite now from this Qur’an [in this prayer] as much as you are able to.18 He knows that there will be those among you who will be sick and others who will be travelling to seek the bounty of God and some others who will be fighting for the cause of God. So, recite from this as much as is possible, and [during the day and night] adhere diligently to the prayer and pay zakah, and [for the cause of your religion and state] lend to God a befitting loan. And [remember that] whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you shall find it with God better than before and greater in reward. Seek God’s forgiveness. Indeed, He is the Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (20)




بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ.قُمْ فَأَنْذِرْ.وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ.وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ. وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ. وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ. وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ.


In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

O you enwrapped in your shawl!19 Arise and give open warning.20 Proclaim the greatness of your Lord only,21 cleanse22 the apparel of your soul,23 keep away from the filth of polytheism and [listen!] do not discontinue your endeavour regarding it to be enough,24 and with perseverance wait for the decision of your Lord.25 (1-7)


فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُوْرِ. فَذَلِكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوْمٌ عَسِيْرٌ. عَلَى الْكَافِرِيْنَ غَيْرُ يَسِيْرٍ. ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيْدًا. وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُوْدًا. وَبَنِيْنَ شُهُوْدًا. وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ تَمْهِيْدًا. ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيْدَ. كَلَّا إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِآيَاتِنَا عَنِيْدًا. سَأُرْهِقُهُ صَعُوْدًا.

Because when the trumpet is sounded, that day will be very severe. It will not be easy for these disbelievers.26 Leave to Me whom I created alone27 and bestowed abundant wealth spread about28 and sons abiding in his presence29 and well smoothed out for him [the path of success and achievement]. Then he expects that [when he has received so much in this world] I shall give him more [in the next]. Certainly not! He has turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations. [Therefore,] soon I will make him climb a mounting slope.30 (8-17)


إِنَّهُ فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَ.فَقُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ. ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ. ثُمَّ نَظَرَ. ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَ. ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ. فَقَالَ إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ. إِنْ هَذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ.

 [This wrongdoer,]31 he pondered and schemed. Cursed be he; what he schemed! Then cursed be he, what he schemed. Then he looked [around him]. Then he frowned and scowled. Then he turned away in scornful pride. Then said: “This is nothing but a magic [of eloquent words; the same] which is being handed down from the past. [This is no divine inspiration]; it is but the word of man.”32 (18-25)


سَأُصْلِيْهِ سَقَرَ. وَمَآ أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ. لَا تُبْقِيْ وَلَا تَذَرُ. لَوَّاحَةٌ لِّلْبَشَرِ. عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ.

[This wrongdoer,] I will soon cast him into Hell. And what
do you know what Hell is? It will not show mercy33 nor spare [anyone], scorching the skin. Deputed over it are nineteen.34


وَمَا جَعَلْنَآ أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً وَّمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِيْنَ كَفَرُوْا لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِيْنَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوْا إِيْمَانًا وَلَا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِيْنَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُوْنَ وَلِيَقُوْلَ الَّذِيْنَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَّرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُوْنَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَذَا مَثَلًا كَذَلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَّشَآءُ وَيَهْدِي مَنْ يَّشَآءُ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُوْدَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَى لِلْبَشَرِ.

35We have deputed none but angels over Hell and have mentioned their number only to make it a test36 for the disbelievers. So that the People of the Book receive assurance, the believers may increase in their faith, the People of the Book and the believers remain in no doubt about it and those among the [People of the Book] who have the ailment [of jealousy] in their hearts as well as the disbelievers [make fun of this and] say: “What does God mean by this mention?”37 In this way, God [according to His law] leads astray whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases.38 [They should never have any misconception about their knowledge; the fact is that] no one knows the armies of your Lord except Him.39 And this [narrative40] is just a reminder for man. (31)




كَلَّا وَالْقَمَرِ. وَاللَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ.وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا أَسْفَرَ. إِنَّهَا لَإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ. نَذِيْرًا لِّلْبَشَرِ. لِمَنْ شَآءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَّتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ. كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِيْنَةٌ. إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِيْنِ. فِي جَنَّاتٍ يَتَسَآءلُوْنَ. عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِيْنَ. مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ. قَالُوْا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّيْنَ. وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِيْنَ. وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِيْنَ. وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّيْنِ. حَتَّى أَتَانَا الْيَقِيْنُ.

[This is not a matter to be made fun of or asked to be hastened.] Certainly not! The moon bears witness and the night also when it turned its back and the morning when it shines forth that this matter [of the Day of Judgement] is from among the great matters [narrated] to warn man,41 for every person who wants to advance forward [to accept it] or wants to turn away [from it after denying it]. Every soul [on that day] shall be held in pledge for its deeds42 except the people of the right hand.43 They will be in gardens. They will be inquiring from each other about these wrongdoers. [They will ask:] “What has brought you into Hell?” They will reply: “[To our misfortune] we were not among those who prayed nor did we feed the poor; we used to quibble with these quibblers and used to deny the Day of Reckoning44 till there came the moment of certainty.” (32-47)



فَمَا تَنْفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِيْنَ. فَمَا لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِيْنَ. كَأَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُّسْتَنْفِرَةٌ. فَرَّتْ مِنْ قَسْوَرَةٍ. بَلْ يُرِيدُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُؤْتَى صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَةً. كَلَّا بَل لَا يَخَافُوْنَ الْآخِرَةَ. كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ. فَمَنْ شَآءَ ذَكَرَهُ.وَمَا يَذْكُرُوْنَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَآءَ اللَّهُ هُوَ أَهْلُ التَّقْوَى وَأَهْلُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ.

At that time, no intercession of their intercessors will be of any use to them.45 So what then is the matter with them that they are turning away46 from this reminder, as though they are frightened asses fleeing from a lion? Each one of them, in fact, desires that [instead of a prophet sent forth], he be handed open scrolls.47 Certainly not! [This never happened nor will it ever happen in the future]; in fact, [the truth is that] they have no fear of the Day of Judgement. [Do not go after them,] never! This is only a reminder. So let him who wants take heed – and they will not take heed unless God [according to His law] so wants48 – [then let him who wants take heed]. He alone is pious and worthy of being forgiven by his Lord. (48-56)


(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)







1. The actual word is: مُزَّمِّل. It is actually مُتَزَّمِّل and the letterت  has been assimilated into ز. Similar, is the case with the word مُدَّثِّر of the next surah. This picture of the Prophet (sws) vividly portrays his state after he received a cold response from his people. In such a situation, a person quite naturally relishes seclusion and in this state of solitude, his shawl is his greatest refuge to which he retreats to detach himself from the rest of the world. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

Such generally is the situation of a person who is worried because of the circumstances he is facing and is also disgruntled with the people around him. The Prophet (sws) was warning people of the punishment which was looming over them; however, those people were so indifferent and averse to this message that they would pounce on the Prophet (sws) and regard his sympathy and anxiety to be mere madness, what to speak of listening to this message. In such circumstances, it was but natural for the Prophet (sws) to remain worried and thoughtful, and in this state of anxiety, a person’s greatest sympathizer is his shawl, as indicated earlier. He can just wrap himself in it whenever he wants and dissociate from his fellow brethren and associate more closely with his Creator. It also needs to be kept in consideration that a shawl was an essential part of the Arabian dress of those times, and the Prophet (sws) would also keep a shawl with him. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 22) 

2. Night here refers to its last half in which a person gets up after sleeping for sometime. The Qur’an has explained this in the succeeding verses. Getting up at that time is a difficult proposition. One can also be late in this; for this reason the time for this has been extended. However, it is evident that standing for the whole of the last half is the most rewarding of all.

3. The details of this recital mentioned in various narratives show that the Prophet (sws) used to recite the Qur’an slowly and distinctly in a melodic voice. He would pause at the end of the verses to respond to their message: at verses which expressed the wrath of God, he would seek his refuge and at verses which expressed God’s mercy and providence, he would express his gratitude. At verses which directed him to bow down before the Almighty, he would prostrate himself before Him.

4. The burden refers to the second phase of his mission (indhar-i ‘am: the phase of open warning) in Makkah. It is called a heavy word because from this open warning sprouted the later phases of migration and acquittal as well as armed conflict of this mission. The intensity of these phases is known to every student of the Prophet’s (sws) history and of those of his companions.

5. The actual words أَشَدُّ وَطْاً mean strongly grounding the feet. However, it is evident that they refer to the inner state of a person, and have been translated while keeping this in consideration. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

… It is indeed very difficult to get up at this time since one’s sleep is dearest to one at this time; however, if a person is able to overcome this trial, then no time is more favourable for him to remember God and to understand His Book. A person who is blessed by the Almighty with the urge to get up at this blessed time is indeed very fortunate: firstly, he finds in himself the power and strength to overcome his base desires which become instrumental in making him capable of reforming and rehabilitating his soul; secondly, the Almighty Who is the Creator of night and day has reserved this time for sending down His blessings and favours and the doors to these blessings are opened for those who value it and come to the presence of God to ask for His mercy and blessings. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 25)

6. Ie., its correctness in being most effective in understanding something and in making others understand it. It is evident from this that where this recital of the Qur’an in the tahajjud prayer can be immensely beneficial to discipline one’s own soul, it can also be very useful in vitalizing all those who may happen to listen to it at this time of the night.

7. Ie., the Prophet (sws) must always bear in mind God’s attributes while remembering Him in abundance in his heart and submerging his tongue in celebrating His praises and extolling Him. This is because all the names of God actually signify His attributes. These attributes are the basis of our faith and religion. It is this remembrance of God by him which will protect his faith and determination to meet the demands of his exacting mission. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

… Just as for the material life of man, breathing is essential, for his spiritual life, remembering God is essential. The body dies if breathing stops. Similarly, if a person becomes indifferent to God, his soul becomes lifeless. It is God’s remembrance that keeps it fresh and alive, and the life of the heart is real life. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 27)

8. Ie., he should disassociate himself from everything and devote all his attention to God alone and spend his time in remembering Him. Evident from this is the importance of the tahajjud prayer, the recital of the Qur’an in it and remembering God in order to acquire steadfastness and perseverance in the effort to preach the religion of God.

9. Ie., he should ignore their excesses. It may well be that his ignoring them with grace become a source of change in them.

10. This attribute of the people who were denying the Prophet (sws) actually sheds light on the reason for this denial: opulence and riches which are in fact favours of the Almighty have made them arrogant and haughty. Instead of thanking God, they have become His opponents.

11. The implication is that the Prophet (sws) should dissociate himself from them and let God deal with these rebellious people Himself; he will then see the dreadful fate they meet. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

Concealed in this verse is also the message that if there is a delay in the destruction of these disbelievers, it is because the Prophet (sws) is still among them. As per a divine practice, as long as a prophet is among his people, they are not punished. If the prophet leaves them, they will be immediately annihilated. It is the misfortune of these oppressive people that they want to harm him, for it is he who is actually shielding them from the wrath of God. If they deprive themselves of this shield, who will save them from torment and affliction? (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 29)

12. Ie., he was sent to bear witness to the truth before them. This is a special term of the Qur’an and refers to conclusive communication of the truth. The purpose is to show that a messenger of God is like the court of God who, once the evidence is established, will issue a verdict between good and evil, just as it did so in the case of Moses (sws) and the Pharaoh.

13. This expression portrays the horrible and intense nature of something and is also used in other languages.

14. The implication is that the evidence for the Day of Judgement in the world around us is as apparent as the final days of pregnancy of a pregnant woman. Though the time she will give birth is not certain yet the fact that she will give birth is a certain reality to everyone who sees her.

15. This is a reduction in duration and extent in the directive of standing in the tahajjud prayer by night given to the Prophet (sws) in the beginning of the surah and is meant for the believers. It was revealed some time just before the Prophet’s migration to Madinah and made part of this surah keeping in view its subject. The reason for this reduction being that the common believers in their great zeal to follow the Prophet (sws) had made this prayer mandatory upon themselves. However, the directive of tahajjud was specially meant for the Prophet (sws) and was given to him to acquire patience and steadfastness during his mission of warning his nation of the Hereafter.

16. Ie., ordains their demands, requirements and effects on human beings.

17. The actual words are: فَتَابَ عَلَیْکُمْ. The word تَابَ means “to turn back.” However, when used with the preposition عَلَى it assumes the meaning expressed in the translation above.

18. It is evident from the context that the recital here means recital in the prayer.

19. This is a portrayal of the same state of the Prophet (sws)
referred to earlier in Surah al-Muzzammil. The words مُدَّثِّر and مُزَّمِّل are synonymous. The latter is fromدِثَار  and refers to a shawl a person uses to cover himself while sleeping.

20. The words “open warning” explain the responsibility alluded to by the words  إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا of the preceding surah. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

… It was not easy at all to sound the message of tawhid in the ears of the leaders of Makkah and Ta’if and that too with the claim that he was a Messenger of God and that if they denied his open warnings, they would be grievously punished. It was but natural for the Prophet (sws) to become apprehensive of such a heavy responsibility. Consequently, in the initial period, he confined his preaching to his immediate family. To them too, he only communicated certain observations and experiences of his prophethood in order to elicit their reaction. This reaction in fact was of great animosity. Thus, in this period, he would often remain very anxious and worried. The words مُدَّثِّر and مُزَّمِّل portray this very state of his. The purpose for which the Almighty had sent him had to be fulfilled at all costs. So he was directed first in Surah
al-Muzzammil to prepare for this situation and then in this surah, he was directed to fully embark on the mission of extending his sphere of preaching and deliver warnings to all the people around him.  (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 43)


21. Ie., the Prophet (sws) should proclaim the oneness and uniqueness of God; all others whose greatness is proclaimed are unfounded.

22. Ie., the Prophet (sws) should cleanse his soul from anything which may stain tawhid. This is evident from the subsequent words:
 وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

This directive was not required to be given to the Prophet (sws) because, God forbid, there was a chance of him being involved in polytheism in any way. Just as he remained a staunch and pure monotheist after becoming a prophet, there was not the slightest trace of polytheism found in his beliefs even before this. The objective was to communicate to the disbelievers and the Idolaters that the warner who had come to them had a very definite stance on polytheism and that he had other very clear injunctions from his Lord in this matter. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 45) 

23. The actual word used is: ثِیَاب. It means “cloth.” However, in classical Arabic literature it also refers to apparel of the heart.

24. The actual word is: تَسْتَكْثِرُ. It signifies an accusative of state. Just as it means “wanting more,” it also means: “thinking something to be more.” Here it is used in this second meaning.

25. The actual words are: وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ. The preposition ل on shows that the verb صبر encompasses the meaning of “waiting.” The implication is that unless the directive of God arrives, the Prophet (sws) should not leave his people thinking that his obligation of preaching has been fulfilled. Why was this directive given? Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes: 

This directive has been given because the divine law about a messenger’s responsibility of warning his people is that if his people remain indifferent to it, then after giving them respite for a certain period of time, the Almighty necessarily destroys them. I have explained this law at many places in this tafsir. As per this law, this time is given to them so that the truth is communicated to them to such an extent that they are left with no legitimate excuse to deny it, and only the Almighty knows how much time should be granted to a people for this purpose. The obligation of the messenger is to continue to communicate the truth and warn them of the grave consequences of denying it until the Almighty asks him to stop and tells him that he has completed his task; now he should consign their fate to Him and migrate from that land. If a messenger decides to migrate on the basis of his own assessment that he has completed his assignment, then there is a strong chance that he might end up wrongly assessing the situation and make the same mistake as Jonah (sws) made. He was rebuked by the Almighty for this decision and after putting him through a severe trial he was sent back by the Almighty to his assignment with his people. It was after he resumed this assignment and continued with it that the Almighty blessed all his people with the urge to accept faith. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 46)

26. The implication is that the day of which they have no fear and think that they will deal with it when it arrives will be no easy a day. It will be a very harsh day.

27. This is a very stern admonition to the megalomaniac leaders of the Quraysh who regarded their state of affluence as evidence of their righteousness and of their being near to God. The word مَنْ used for them comes both for singular and plural entities and hence both types of pronouns can be used for it. It does not refer to any specific person as understood by our exegetes.

28. The implication is that like everyone he is born alone from the womb of his mother. But the Almighty gave him wealth and assets that were spread out. In the words of Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, at some places he had orchards, at others houses; similarly, if one area housed his sheep and cattle, others boasted his agricultural lands, business ventures and shops.

29. Ie., sons who would be beside him at every instance and event. The actual word used for them is شُهُوْد. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, while explaining it, writes: 

… In a tribal system, the support and help of a family has always occupied a great status. On this depended the survival and defence of a tribe. The person who had the most sons and family members would be made the leader of a tribe, and the sons too had to be so capable and alert that they could stand by the side of their father whenever any need arose. The word شُهُوْد points to this very aspect. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 49)

30. Ie., when he was not prepared to mount any steep path of good and virtue, then as a punishment for this attitude, the Almighty will make him climb a mounting slope in Hell.

31. This is a picture of animosity mentioned earlier by the words: “He turned out to be an enemy of Our revelations.” In other words, when his followers asked for his opinion about the Qur’an, then this was the arrogant way in which he expressed his opinion. Such a complete picture is this that it portrays his inner self.

32. The implication is that however much his magical style is given importance, they shall not refute it. However, it should not be elevated to divinity; it is but the word of a man.

33. The actual words are: اَبْقٰي عَلَيْهِ. The preposition is not mentioned here because this is not the occasion of its mention.

34. Ie., nineteen angels are deputed.

35. This verse sounds an on the spot warning to the addressees of the surah on their expected reaction. It has come between the text of the surah like a parenthetical sentence. Its connection with the previous verse through a conjunction shows it was not revealed later.

36. Thus like other mutashabih (allegorical) verses, this information too that nineteen angels are deputed on Hell would have become a means of trial for the disbelievers. Some would have said what is it to fear if Hell also has angels in it; the way these angels will endure Hell, they too would endure it. Another would have said that what is to fear if there are only nineteen deputed for this task. The huge number of people that are allegedly being threatened to go to Hell will easily deal with them.

37. Stated here is the consequence of the trial. People of the Book will receive conviction from it and believers will increase in their faith and they will not remain in any doubt that it is only God’s word which is the truth and how worthless and baseless are the pretexts on the basis of which the disbelievers are opposing it. It happens many a time in the struggle between good and evil that the attitude of those who oppose the truth and the baseless nature of their objections becomes in this manner a source for increase in faith and conviction of the believers. It is further stated that the disbelievers by making fun of what is said by God will increase in their disbelief.

38. Ie., according to this law, only those will be led astray who make themselves likely of being led astray as a result of their attitude in such trials, and only those will be guided who are worthy of being guided.

39. The attitude about the mutashabihat mentioned above springs forth from the arrogant perception of being “know-alls;” their contention being how can a thing which is beyond their knowledge and intellect be true.

40. Ie., the narrative of the Day of Judgement being narrated in this surah.

41. A part of the discourse between the oaths and their complement mentioned above is suppressed because of concomitant indications. If this part is revealed, then what is meant to be conveyed is that the alternation of day and night and the waxing and waning of the moon bear witness that there exists a gradual progression and sequence in every act of God. The dawn comes at its time after the night and the moon too gradually completes its cycle to become full. Hence when the time comes, this world too after passing through various phases will reach the time of arrival of the Day of Judgement. This delay is not a matter of making fun of or for asking to hasten its arrival. At this time, what needs to be understood is that the matter of the Day of Judgement is from among great matters being narrated to man for his admonition.

42. Ie., on the day of reward and punishment only his deeds will release him from this pledge. If someone thinks that his lineage or connections will secure release for him, then this is an erroneous perception.

43. This is a special term of the Qur’an; ie., except for those people whose account is handed over to them in their right hands.

44. Conviction in the Hereafter, the prayer and spending in charity is the substance of the whole religion. I have mentioned earlier that to become a true servant of God in this world, two things are needed: firstly, the relationship of a person should be established with his Creator on a sound footing; secondly, he connects with his fellow creation in the right manner. The first of these is obtained through the prayer which is the foremost manifestation of love with God, and the second through spending in charity which is the foremost manifestation of love with His creation.

45. This is a special linguistic style in which the consequence of a thing is negated to negate the thing itself. In other words, there will be no intercession since there will there be no intercessors there nor their intercession.

46. The actual word is: مُعْرِضِيْن. It is an accusative of state from the genitive pronoun.

47. This is the same demand mentioned in verse 124 of Surah al-An‘am viz: we will not embrace faith until we are given the same thing as given to the messengers in the same manner as they were given.

48. Ie., wants, according to His law of providing guidance, to produce in a person the urge to benefit from the guidance brought by the prophets of God. This law has already been explained in footnote 38.

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