The Message of the Quran

Muhammad Asad



Total Verses: 21





UNANIMOUSLY regarded as one of the very early revelations - most probably the ninth in the chronological order - the surah derives its name from the mention of "the night" in the first verse.




1) CONSIDER the night as it veils [the earth] in darkness,


(2) and the day as it rises bright!


(3) Consider the creation of the male and the female! *


*Lit., "Consider that which has created [or "creates"] the male and the female", i.e., the elements which are responsible for the differentiation between male and female. This, together with the symbolism of night and day, darkness and light, is an allusion - similar to the first ten verses of the preceding surah - to the polarity evident in all nature and, hence, to the dichotomy (spoken of in the next verse) which characterizes man’s aims and motives.


(4) Verily, [O men,] you aim at most divergent ends! *


* I.e., at good and bad ends (cf. note 6 on 91:8) - sc., "and so the consequences of your doings are, of necessity, divergent".


(5) Thus, as for him who gives [to others] and is conscious of God,


(6) and believes in the truth of the ultimate good* -


*I.e., in moral values independent of time and social circumstance and, hence, in the absolute validity of what may be described as "the moral imperative".  


(7) for him shall We make easy the path towards [ultimate] ease.*


* See note 6 on 87:8.


(8) But as for him who is niggardly, and thinks that he is self-sufficient,*


* Cf. 96:6-7.


(9) and calls the ultimate good a lie –


(10) for him shall We make easy the path towards hardship:


(11) and what will his wealth avail him when he goes down [to his grave]?*


* Or (as a statement): "of no avail will be to him his wealth when he. . .", etc.  


(12) BEHOLD, it is indeed for Us to grace [you] with guidance;


(13) and, behold, Ours is [the dominion over] the life to come as well as [over] this earlier part [of your life]:*


* This statement is meant to stress the fact that man's life in this world and in the hereafter are but two stages of one continuous entity.


(14) and so I warn you of the raging fire -


(15) [the fire] which none shall have to endure but that most hapless wretch


(16) who gives the lie to the truth and turns away [from it].


(17) For, distant from it shall remain he who is truly conscious of God:


(18) he that spends his possessions [on others] so that he might grow in purity –


(19) not as payment for favours received, *


* Lit., "no one having with him any favour to be repaid". In its widest sense, projected towards the future, the phrase implies also the expectation of a reward.


(20) but only out of a longing for the countenance of his Sustainer, the All-Highest:


(21) and such, indeed, shall in time be well-pleased.


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