The Message of the Quran

Muhammad Asad



Total Verses: 30




THE DESIGNATION of this surah - the tenth in the order of revelation - is based on the mention of "the daybreak" in the first verse.




(1) CONSIDER the daybreak


(2) and the ten nights!*


* The "daybreak" (fajr) apparently symbolizes man's spiritual awakening; hence, the "ten nights" is an allusion to the last third of the month of Ramadan, in the year 13 before the hijrah, during which Muhammad received his first revelation (see introductory note to surah 96) and was thus enabled to contribute to mankind's spiritual awakening.


(3) Consider the multiple and the One!*


* Lit., "the even and the odd" or "the one": i.e., the multiplicity of creation as contrasted with the oneness and uniqueness of the Creator (Baghawi, on the authority of Sa’id ibn al-Khudri, as well as Tabari in one of his alternative interpretations of the above phrase). The concept of the "even number" implies the existence of more than one of the same kind: in other words, it signifies every thing that has a counterpart or counterparts and, hence, a definite relationship with other things (cf. the term azwaj in 36:36, referring to the polarity evident in all creation), As against this, the term al-watr - or, in the more common (Najdi) spelling, al-witr - primarily denotes "that which is single" or "one" and is, hence, one of the designations given to God - since "there is nothing that could be compared with Him" (112:4) and "nothing like unto Him" (42:11).


(4) Consider the night as it runs its course!*


* An allusion to the night of spiritual darkness which is bound to "run its course" - i.e., to disappear - as soon as man becomes truly conscious of God.


(5) Considering all this - could there be, to anyone endowed with reason, a [more] solemn evidence of the truth?*


* Lit., "a [more] solemn affirmation" (qasam): i.e., a convincing evidence of the existence and oneness of God.


(6) ART THOU NOT aware of how thy Sustainer has dealt with [the tribe of] ‘Ad,*


* See 7:65-72, and particularly the second half of note 48 on 7:65. Iram, mentioned in the next verse, seems to have been the name of their legendary capital, now covered by the sands of the desert of Al-Ahqaf.


(7) [the people of] Iram the many-pillared,


(8) the like of whom has never been reared in all the land? –


(9) and with [the tribe of] Thamud,* who hollowed out rocks in the valley? –


* See surah 7, notes 56 and 59. The "valley" referred to in the sequence is the Wadi 'l-Qura, situated north of Medina on the ancient caravan route from South Arabia to Syria.


(10) and with Pharaoh of the [many] tent-poles?*


* For an explanation of this epithet, see surah 38, note 17.


(11) [It was they] who transgressed all bounds of equity all over their lands,


(12) and brought about great corruption therein:


(13) and therefore thy Sustainer let loose upon them a scourge of suffering:


(14) for, verily, thy Sustainer is ever on the watch!


(15) BUT AS FOR man,* whenever his Sustainer tries him by His generosity and by letting him enjoy a life of ease, he says, "My Sustainer has been [justly] generous towards me";**


* The above phrase, introduced by the particle fa-amma ("But as for. . "), obviously connects with the reference to the "solemn evidence of the truth" in verse 5 - implying that man does not, as a rule, bethink himself of the hereafter, being concerned only with this world and what promises to be of immediate advantage to him (Zamakhshari, Razi, Baydawi).


** I.e., he regards God's bounty as something due to him (Razi).


(16) whereas, whenever He tries him by straitening his means of livelihood, he says, "My Sustainer has disgraced me!"*


*  I.e., he regards the absence or loss of affluence not as a trial, but as an evidence of divine "injustice" - which, in its turn, may lead to a denial of God's existence.


(17) But nay, nay, [O men, consider all that you do and fail to do:] you are not generous towards the orphan,


(18) and you do not urge one another to feed the needy,*


* I.e., "you feel no urge to feed the needy" (cf. 107:3).


(19) and you devour the inheritance [of others] with devouring greed,


(20) and you love wealth with boundless love!


(21) Nay, but [how will you fare on Judgment Day,] when the earth is crushed with crushing upon crushing,


(22) and [the majesty of] thy Sustainer stands revealed,* as well as [the true nature of] the angels; rank upon rank?


* Lit., "[when] thy Sustainer comes", which almost all of the classical commentators understand as the revelation (in the abstract sense of this word) of God's transcendental majesty and the manifestation of His judgment.


(23) And on that Day hell will be brought [within sight]; on that Day man will remember [all that he did and failed to do]: but what will that remembrance avail him?


(24) He will say, "Oh, would that I had. provided beforehand for my life [to come]!"


(25) For, none can make suffer as He will make suffer [the sinners] on that Day,


(26) and none can bind with bonds like His.*


* See note 7 on 73:12-13.


(27) [But unto the righteous God will say,] "O thou human being that hast attained to inner peace!


(28) Return thou unto thy Sustainer, well-pleased [and] pleasing [Him]:


(29) enter, then, together with My [other true] servants –


(30) yea, enter thou My paradise!"


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