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



Sūrah Muzzammil forms a pair with Sūrah Muddaththir the succeeding sūrah with regard to the subject discussed in them. It directs the Prophet (sws) to prepare himself for bearing the burden of a heavy responsibility, while Sūrah Muddaththir explains this very responsibility: the Prophet (sws) after indhār (warning), the first phase of his mission, should launch the second phase: indhār-i-‘ām (open warning).

The sūrah is addressed to the Prophet (sws) and also to his addressees: the leadership of the Quraysh.

It is evident that with the revelation of this sūrah in Makkah began the phase of indhār-i-‘ām of the Prophet’s mission (sws).

Central Themes

The central theme of Sūrah 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 heavy responsibility of indhār-i-‘ām to his nation and to inform 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. 


يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ  قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا  نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا  أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا  إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا  إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْءًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا  إِنَّ لَكَ فِي اَلنَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا  وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ إِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيلًا  رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيلًا  وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا  وَذَرْنِي وَالْمُكَذِّبِينَ أُولِي النَّعْمَةِ وَمَهِّلْهُمْ قَلِيلًا  إِنَّ لَدَيْنَا أَنكَالًا وَجَحِيمًا  وَطَعَامًا ذَا غُصَّةٍ وَعَذَابًا أَلِيمًا  يَوْمَ تَرْجُفُ الْأَرْضُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَكَانَتِ الْجِبَالُ كَثِيبًا مَّهِيلًا (١-١٤)

إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَى فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا  فَعَصَى فِرْعَوْنُ الرَّسُولَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُ أَخْذًا وَبِيلًا  فَكَيْفَ تَتَّقُونَ إِن كَفَرْتُمْ يَوْمًا يَجْعَلُ الْوِلْدَانَ شِيبًا  السَّمَاء مُنفَطِرٌ بِهِ كَانَ وَعْدُهُ مَفْعُولًا  إِنَّ هَذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء اتَّخَذَ إِلَى رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا (١٥-١٩)

إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ تَقُومُ أَدْنَى مِن ثُلُثَيِ اللَّيْلِ وَنِصْفَهُ وَثُلُثَهُ وَطَائِفَةٌ مِّنَ الَّذِينَ مَعَكَ وَاللَّهُ يُقَدِّرُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ عَلِمَ أَن لَّن تُحْصُوهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْرَؤُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ عَلِمَ أَن سَيَكُونُ مِنكُم مَّرْضَى وَآخَرُونَ يَضْرِبُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَبْتَغُونَ مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَآخَرُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَاقْرَؤُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ اللَّهِ هُوَ خَيْرًا وَأَعْظَمَ أَجْرًا وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (٢٠)

O ye enfolded in your shawl1! stand [in prayer] by night, but not all night. Half the night, or even less or a little more and [in this prayer of yours] recite the Qur’ān in a slow measured tone2. Because soon We shall lay on you the burden of a heavy word [the burden of  open  warning3]. Verily,  this  rising  by  night  is very suitable for the mind’s peace and the heart’s resolve4 and for the speech’s correctness5. Because during the daytime you will be hard-pressed with [this task; so pray at this time] and remember the name of your Lord6 and [in this loneliness of the night] devote yourself entirely to Him. He is the Lord of the East and the West. There is no god but He. Therefore, take Him alone as your Guardian, and bear with patience what they say and with dignity ignore them7. And leave their matter, the matter of these who deny,  who enjoy the comforts of life to Me8 and give them a little respite. We have in store for them heavy fetters and a blazing fire, and choking food and a painful torment -- 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)

To you [O People of the Quraysh!] We have sent forth a Prophet as a witness upon you just as we sent a Prophet to Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh disobeyed this Prophet; so We seized him with a dreadful punishment9. So how then will you, if you also deny, save yourself from the Day which shall make the children gray-haired. The heavens are ripping apart with its burden10 and [O People of the Quraysh!] His promise [--the promise of your Lord] is certain to be fulfilled. Verily, [before the Day of Judgement comes] this is a reminder. So whoever wants, he can take the path which leads to His Lord.  (15-19)

[O Prophet! We had enjoined upon you to stand by night]. Your Lord, indeed, knows that [in complying with this directive] sometimes you stand two thirds of the night and sometimes half and sometimes one third of it, and so does a group among your followers. And Allah alone [keeping in regard the need of people] appoints the day and night in due measure. He knew that you would not be able to follow this [routine]. So He turned towards you mercifully. Recite then from this Qur’ān [in this prayer] as much as you are able to11. He knows that [not much time will elapse before] there are among you who will be sick and others who will be travelling to seek the bounty12 of Allah and others who will be fighting for the cause of Allah; recite then from this as much as is possible for you, and [in the daytime and at night] establish regular prayers and pay zakāh and [for the cause of your religion and state] lend to Allah a befitting13 loan, and remember whatever good you send forth for yourselves you shall find it with Allah better than before and greater in reward. And seek Allah’s forgiveness: verily He is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (20)



1. This the picture of the Prophet (sws) vividly portrays the state of mind in which he was after he received a cold response from his people. It reflects his pensive mood which was bordering on distress and grief. 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.

2. The details of this recital mentioned in the various Ahādith show that the Prophet (sws) used to recite the Qur’ān slowly and distinctly in a melodic voice. He used to pause at the end of the verses to respond to their message: at verses which expressed the wrath of Allah, he used to seek his refuge and at verses which expressed Allah's mercy and providence, he used to express his gratitude. Sometimes he used to repeat a particular verse being overwhelmed with emotions and at verses which directed him to bow down before the Almighty, he used to prostrate himself before Him.

3. The verse states the reason for the directive of standing in the prayer of Tahajjud by night: to fulfil the heavy responsibility of the second phase of his mission (indhār-i-‘ām: the phase of open warning) in Makkah, the Prophet (sws) must prepare himself spiritually and mentally -- for in this phase, as mentioned in the coming sūrah, he will have to increase the extent and scope of his propagation, and it is this prayer which will give him the strength and courage to do so and to combat all the hardships and difficulties which may come his way.

4. The actual words ashaddu watā (feet’s hold) in fact allude to a man's inner state, and have been translated while keeping this in consideration.

5. That is its correctness in being most effective in understanding the Qur’ān and in making others understand it. In other words, where this recital can be immensely beneficial to one’s own soul it can also be very useful in vitalising all those who may happen to listen to it at this time of the night.

6. It must always be kept in mind that all the names of Allah actually signify His attributes. These attributes are the basis of our faith and religion and it is only their correct comprehension which keeps man on the right path. The Prophet (sws) has been directed here to submerge his heart in the ocean of Allah’s remembrance and his tongue brimful with celebrating his praises and with glorifying Him for this would give him the perseverance and the inner strength to meet the demands of his exacting mission.

7. There is a difference between ignoring someone with grace and ignoring someone with anger. The former is an expression of concern while the latter that of indifference. Concern and sympathy with one’s brethren, even if they are ungrateful, is a hallmark of the Prophets of Allah (sws).

8. This attribute of the people who were denying the Prophet (sws) actually sheds light on the reason of this denial: opulence and riches which are in fact favours of the Almighty have made them arrogant and haughty.

9. The Quraysh are being warned that just as the Prophet Moses (sws) decided the fate of Pharaoh and his people after they rejected him, they too would face a grievous doom if they deny the Prophet (sws) sent to them.

10. That is the evidence of the Day of Judgement in the world around us is as apparent as the bulge 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.

11. This reduction in duration and extent in the directive of standing in prayer by night for the believers was revealed sometime just before the Prophet's migration (sws) to Madina where the Muslims shall have to fight the unbelievers. 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.

12. To travel to seek Allah's bounty means to travel to seek livelihood.

13. ‘Lending to Allah’ is a special expression used in the Qur’ān where a plea is made to the Muslims to spend generously for the cause of their collective requirements. The tremendous appeal present in these words for the Muslims is too effective to be stated in words.

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