AT-TARIQ (THAT WHICH COMES IN THE NIGHT)
Total Verses: 17
REVEALED at a comparatively early date (probably in the fourth year of the Prophet's mission), the surah takes its name from the noun at-tariq in its first verse.
IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MOST GRACIOUS, THE DISPENSER OF GRACE:
(1) CONSIDER the heavens and that which comes in the night!*
* Some commentators assume that what is described here as at-tariq ("that which comes in the night") is the morning-star, because it appears towards the end of the night; others - like Zamakhshari or Raghib - understand by it "the star" in its generic sense. Now if we analyze the origin of this noun, we find that it is derived from the verb taraqa, which primarily means "he beat [something]" or "knocked [at something]"; hence, taraqa 'l-bab, "he knocked at the door". Tropically, the noun signifies "anything [or "anyone"] that comes in the night", because a person who comes to a house by night is expected to knock at the door (Taj al-Arus). In the Qur'anic mode of expression, at-tariq is evidently a metaphor for the heavenly solace which sometimes comes to a human being lost in the deepest darkness of affliction and distress; or for the sudden, intuitive enlightenment which disperses the darkness of uncertainty; or, finally, for divine revelation, which knocks, as it were, at the doors of man's heart.. and thus fulfils the functions of both solace and enlightenment. (For my rendering of the adjurative wa as "Consider", see surah 74, first half of note 23.)
(2) And what could make thee conceive what it is that comes in the night?
(3) It is the star that pierces through [life's] darkness:
(4) [for] no human being has ever been left unguarded.*
* Lit., "there is no human being without a guardian [or "without a watch being kept] over it". See in this connection note 7 on 82:10-12.
(5) LET MAN, then, observe out of what he has been created:
(6) he has been created out of a seminal fluid
(7) issuing from between the loins [of man] and the pelvic arch [of woman].*
* The plural noun tara'ib, rendered by me as "pelvic arch", has also the meaning of "ribs" or "arch of bones"; according to most of the authorities who have specialized in the etymology of rare Quranic expressions this term relates specifically to female anatomy (Taj al-'Arus).
(8) Now, verily, He [who thus creates man in the first instance] is well able to bring him back [to life]
(9) on the Day when all I secrets will be laid bare,
(10) and [man] will have neither strength nor helper!
(11) Consider* the heavens, ever-revolving,
* Sc., "And, finally, in order to grasp more fully God's power of creation and re-creation, consider. . .", etc.
(12) and the earth, bursting forth with plants!
(13) BEHOLD, this [divine writ] is indeed a word that between truth and falsehood,*
* Lit., "a decisive word", or "word of distinction", i.e., between the true and the false - in this case, belief in a continuation of life after "death ", on the one hand, and a denial of its possibility, on the other. (Cf. 37:21, 44:40, 86:13 and 38, and 78:17, where Resurrection Day is spoken of as "the Day of Distinction"; see also note 6 on 86:13.)
(14) and is no idle tale.
(15) Behold, they [who refuse to accept it] devise many a false argument* [to disprove its truth];
* Lit., "devise [many] an artful scheme (kayd)"; see note 41 on 34:33, where "the almost synonymous term makr is used in the same sense.
(16) but I shall bring all their scheming to nought.*
* Lit., "I shall devise a [yet more subtle] scheme", sc., "to bring theirs to nought". The paraphrase adopted by me gives, according to all the authorities, the meaning of the above sentence.
(17) Let, then, the deniers of the truth have their will: let them have their will for a little while!