بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
The Chapter has sixty Verses and it was revealed in Mecca.
The title of the Chapter derives from its opening Verse:
“By the scattering winds”
connoting harsh winds that scatter everything. The Chapter opening and closing with a treatment of Resurrection deals mainly with Divine Unity, Divine Manifestations in the world of existence, the story of angels receiving Abraham’s (as) hospitality and bearing to him the glad tidings of a child to be born to him, warning against destruction of the people of Lot (as), and a reference to a number of Prophets (as) like Moses and Noah (as) and the peoples of ‘Ad and Thamud.
Making mention of the history of former Prophets (as) and the hardships they experienced for guiding their peoples, the Chapter in question calls the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) to persevere and be patient in proclaiming his Call.
It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):
“One who recites Surah al-Dhariyat in the day or at night, God Almighty will improve his life and sustenance, providing him with abundant provision, and illuminating his grave with a light shining to the Day of Resurrection [provided that he acts upon Qur’anic Injunctions].”1
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
1. By the winds that scatter everything forcefully.
2. Then by the clouds bearing heavy weight [of water].
3. Then by the ships that float with ease.
4. Then by angels distributing the affairs by [Allah’s] Command.
In the opening four blessed Verses of the Chapter in question God Almighty swears by four great things in the world of creation, saying that what the Prophets promised you concerning the exalted states and Bounties in store for good-doers in the Hereafter are certain and true and the Recompense of deeds shall be given at Divine Tribunal in the Hereafter such that each and every person shall certainly be recompensed for his deeds.
Qur’anic exegets’ views concerning the opening four blessed Verses of the Chapter in question:
1. By the winds dispersing the clouds or dust. By the angels who disperse the clouds. By the women who disseminate generations of mankind through conception and pregnancy.
2. By the clouds bearing the heavy weight of rain by the angels responsible for making the clouds heavy with the weight of rain to flow. By the women carrying the burden of pregnancy.
3. By the ships floating in the sea with ease. By the planets, the sun, and the moon circling in their orbits. By the winds that move around.
4. Then these are the distributors of affairs or the angels serving as agents of the affairs of creation, responsible for sending down rain and distributors of the provisions of creatures, since each kind of angels are responsible for fulfilling certain duties so that the world of creation be preserved through order.
Ibn al-Kawwa’ asked the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) regarding the opening four blessed Verses and narrated from Mujahid that ‘distributors’ refers to the four archangels responsible for the affairs of mankind: Gabriel for severity, Michael for Mercy, ‘Izra’il for taking life, and Israfil for blowing the Trumpet or distributing the winds that distribute the clouds throughout the world.
The author of [the exegetic work titled] Kashshaf and Tabarsi narrate from Ibn ‘Abbas and Mujahid who in turn narrate from Ibn al-Kawwa’ that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) was asked while preaching on the pulpit:
“O Commander of the Faithful (as)! I ask you a few questions. Tell me what is meant by:
“The wind is being intended.”
‘The clouds are being meant.’
I further asked:
‘What is intended by
‘Angels are being meant.’”
The tradition is attested in many a tradition source. The tradition in question bears testimony to the aforesaid view as per which dhariyat, hamilat, jariyat, and muqassimat designate the wind, the clouds, the ships, and the distributing angels respectively.
Certain Qur’anic exegets have been quoted as saying that in all instances, the word
is the object of oaths, since it is solely befitting to swear by God Almighty.
In this vein, a tradition is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) as per which he said:
“No one is allowed to take an oath unless he swears by God Almighty, but He may swear by any of His creatures. God Almighty swears by these creatures since they are of great benefits. Divine Unity is also further substantiated through such oaths. The fundamentals of the physical world include these four things; even if one of the four fails to function or transgress its bounds, the affairs of all mankind and also all creatures shall be ruined.”
إِنَّمَا تُوعَدُونَ لَصَادِقٌ
وَإِنَّ الدِّينَ لَوَاقِعٌ
5. Indeed, that which you are promised is certainly true.
6. And indeed, the [Day of] Recompense is certain to occur.
God Almighty fulfills the Promises given to His servants in this world and the Hereafter. God Almighty whose Manifestations of Omnipotence are visible in the world of creation is Able to fulfill His Promises.
The twain blessed Verses in question serve as the apodoses of the oaths to such multiplicities in the natural phenomena and their distribution as promised by the Prophets including the Rewards, Chastisements, Paradise, and Hell which are all true. Since the oath taken is supposed to be consistent with what is mentioned as the substantiation thereof, making mention of the multiplicities of the natural phenomena, e.g. wind, rain, and cloud, may make a reference to the point that despite the contradiction and dispersion of natural phenomena, God Almighty has removed such contradiction and dispersion though His Omniscience and Omnipotence and they all constitute an orderly world.
Likewise, it was promised by the Prophets as to getting together of all mankind and jinn living in dispersion and different spatial and temporal spheres that on the Promised Day they shall get together in one single line. These temporally disintegrated creatures shall unite on the Day of Resurrection. Thus, all different and dispersed deeds committed in this world shall be presented to them in the Books of Deeds and those committing them shall be recompensed.
وَالسَّمَاء ذَاتِ الْحُبُكِ
إِنَّكُمْ لَفِي قَوْلٍ مُّخْتَلِفٍ
يُؤْفَكُ عَنْهُ مَنْ اُفِكَ
7. By the heaven abounding in beauteous paths and beauties,
8. Surely, you are [perplexed] in having different words.
9. Turned aside from Truth is he who will be led astray [in future].
The insensible may utter different words at different times. Thus, there is one Straight Path, but ways leading people astray are large in number. There is one true belief, but untrue ones are many. The blessed Verses in question like the preceding ones open with an oath and treat of disbelievers’ differences regarding Resurrection and different questions including the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) and Divine Unity.
The blessed Verse 7 reads:
“By the heaven abounding in beauteous paths and beauties.”
Different senses have been presented by lexicographers for the Arabic plural noun hubuk (singular form: hibak) including: paths and meanders as traces of wind blowing onto desert sand, water surface, or clouds. It is also applied to ‘curly hair’ and at times to ‘beauty, adornment, orderly shape.’
The word derives from the root h-b-k denoting ‘bind, tighten.’2 All the different senses traces back to one single sense: the beauteous folds and meanders visible in waves, clouds, desert sand hills, and hair.
Application of the original sense of the word to the heaven is owing to either the different forms of the masses of planets and constellations or the fascinating meanders visible in clouds which are at times so appealing that one may be mesmerized by them for a while. It may also reflect the immense masses of galaxies appearing in spheres like curls of hair.
The fascinating pictures taken by scientists by means of telescopes remind one of curly hair. Thus, the Holy Qur’an swears by the heaven and immense galaxies still unperceived by the sharp vision of science.
Taking into account the fact that these senses are by no means inconsistent may reflect that they are all intended in the oath, as it is attested elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an3:
“And indeed We have created above you seven heavens [one above the other]”
which makes a reference to the multiplicity and variety of the heavens, planets, galaxies, and different worlds. It is also worthy of note that the root of the word may reflect the consolidation of the heavens and the solid nexus existing amongst planets, like that between the planets of the solar system with the sun.
The apodosis of the oath, namely the object of it, is to be found in the blessed Verse 8:
“Surely, you are [perplexed] in having different words.”
It is saying that your words are contradictions in terms demonstrating the unfoundedness of your words. Regarding Resurrection you say at times:
“We never believe that decayed bones may ever be rejuvenated.”
At times you say:
“We are in doubt concerning Resurrection.”
You sometimes say:
“Bring our ancestors to bear witness that Resurrection will follow death so that we may acknowledge your claims.”
Regarding the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) you sometimes say that he is a lunatic, a poet, a sorcerer. At times you say that a teacher teaches him these words. At times, you call the Holy Qur’an ‘ancient legends’ (asatir al-awwalin), poetry, magic, and lie.
By the meanders of the heavens! Your words abound in contradictions in terms. Had you had any reasonable argument to produce, you would have presented the same argument instead of searching different unfounded arguments each and every day. Such expression is actually an argument negating disbelievers’ unfounded claims regarding Divine Unity, Resurrection, the Noble Prophet of Islam (S), and the Holy Qur’an.
It is worthy of note that based on the contextual meaning of the following blessed Verses, the focal point of these blessed Verses is the question of Resurrection.
The blessed Verse 9 treats of the reasons behind deviation from the true path, saying:
“Those who refuse to acknowledge sound arguments and submit to reason deviate from belief in Resurrection; though the arguments substantiating life after death are evident.”
(“Turned aside from Truth is he who will be led astray [in future]”).
It is worthy of note that the Verse in expressed in brief as the literal translation of the same is:
“Turned aside from Truth is he who will be led astray [in future].”
The Arabic word ufik originally designates ‘turn away from’; consequently, it is applied to ‘lie’ which entails deviation from the Straight Path. Likewise the Arabic plural noun mu’tafikat is applied to different winds. Taking into account the point that the preceding Verses treated of Resurrection, it may be said that the contextual meaning of the blessed Verse makes a reference to deviation from such belief.
Since the preceding blessed Verses dealt with disbelievers’ contradictory statements, it is evident that those deviating from reason and clear arguments are being meant herein. Thus, the contextual meaning of the blessed Verse refers to those who deviate from belief in Resurrection owing to turning away from logical arguments and the logic aiming at seeking truth.
However, deviation may reflect refusing to acknowledge the Truth including the Holy Qur’an, Divine Unity, the Noble Prophet’s (S) Prophethood, Resurrection, and Divine Guardianship of the Infallible Imams (as) reflected in a number of traditions. The Question of Resurrection is indisputably involved herein.
الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي غَمْرَةٍ سَاهُونَ
10. Down with the liars [talking of the Holy Qur’an and Resurrection without relying on sound arguments]
11. Who are immersed in heedlessness and neglect.
The Arabic word kharras
derives from kh-r-s denoting ‘form a conjecture, tell untruth.’ The Arabic word ghamra designates ‘abundant bottomless water,’ but it ad hoc connotes profound ignorance encompassing man. Some people are in the habit of gossiping based on their surmises and conjectures aiming to create doubts in others.
Gossips are usually commissioned by the enemy, created by hypocrites, and acknowledged by simpletons. At any rate, the blessing Verse in question is saying: “May the liars die.” The sentence is a curse to those liars who deserve to die since their non-existence is better than their existence.
The blessed Verse 11 is a depiction of such liars, saying that they are immersed in neglect and heedlessness. The Arabic word sahun derives from s-h-w denoting ‘to be inattentive, to neglect; though it ad hoc connotes those who are immersed in ignorance and produce unfounded words and excuses each and every day in order to evade the Path of Truth.
يَسْألُونَ أيَّانَ يَوْمُ الدِّينِ
يَوْمَ هُمْ عَلَی النَّارِ يُفْتَنُونَ
ذُوقُوا فِتْنَتَكُمْ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ
12. They inquire: “When will be the Day of Recompense?”
13. [It shall be] a Day when they will be burned over the Fire!
14. [It is said unto them:] “Taste you your trial! This is what you used to demand to be hastened!”
Inquiry aiming at understanding entails no problem, but it is blameworthy if the same aims at finding faults and denial of truth;
(“They inquire: “When will be the Day of Recompense?”).
The antecedent of
are those immersed in ignorance as mentioned in the preceding blessed Verses; those who have turned away from the Path of Truth and inquire from believers regarding the Day of Recompense sworn by in the Holy Qur’an as well as the Noble Prophet of Islam (S) in order to deride them.
“A Day when they will be burned over the Fire”
is the reply to their question whose predicate is omitted, namely the Day of Recompense is the Day on which you shall be burned and chastised and the angel responsible for inflicting chastisement upon disbelievers in Hell says unto them: “Taste your trial!”
This is same Day promised by the Prophets warning disbelievers against the pain and torment in the Hereafter; but disbelievers refused to believe them; instead they hastened out of denial asking about the time of Recompense.
Now, they may taste their trial and acknowledge the truth thereof. It is also worthy of note that the Arabic word fitna is used originally in the sense of melting gold and silver in the crucible to separate pure gold or silver from impurities, though the world ad hoc signifies the severity of disbelievers’ torment.
إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ
آخِذِينَ مَا آتَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُحْسِنِينَ
15. Indeed, the God fearing shall be in the midst of Gardens and [beside] Springs,
16. Receiving what their Lord has granted them. Indeed, they were formerly the good-doers [in this world].
Turning away from transient pleasures entails permanent ones. Besides gardens and springs, the people of Paradise receive new Bounties at any moment. It is worthy of note that what they receive befits Divine Lordship and all Bounties in Paradise will be granted to the God fearing by the Sacred Essence of God Almighty.
Following a depiction of those who have immersed in the mire of ignorance and the manner of their dire fate, God Almighty depicts the state of the good-doers and the Bounties and Blessings granted to them. The Qur’anic depiction of the state of disbelievers and evil doers and their dire fate follows precedes or follows the state of believers and the God fearing.
We expect the same since God Almighty has glorified His Messenger (S) and called him ‘bearer of glad tidings and a warner.’ Furthermore, the perfect man is supposed to know God Almighty by all Divine Beauteous Names and be aware that He bestows many Blessings at the time of Mercy and is severely Revengeful at the time of Wrath.
Thus, the God fearing are supposed to be in a state between fear and hope at all times, rather than be proud of their piety, worship, and fearing God Almighty or lose their hope of Divine Mercy. As a consequence, the Qur’anic Verses treat of the state of disbelievers and their torments inflicted upon them in Hellfire preceding or following a treatment of the state of the God fearing and those obedient to Divine Commands deriving pleasure in Gardens and beside Springs in Paradise.
The Arabic word jannat the plural form of jannat which may not only allude to the point that they will enjoy different kinds of Paradise but it may also make a reference to the point that they will enjoy physical and spiritual Paradises and Springs without bounds. The Arabic word ‘uyun is the plural form of ‘ayn which may refer to different kinds of Springs to be enjoyed by the God fearing.
The blessed Verse proceeds with some of the attributes of the God fearing including the receipt of what their Lord bestows upon them out of Mercy and Graciousness;
(“Receiving what their Lord has granted them”).
The relative ma (“that, what”) in
“what their Lord has granted them” (ma ata-hum rabbu-hum)
designates generality connoting innumerable Bounties. It may also allude to their exalted state, namely they are so close to God Almighty that they immediately receive Bounties from Him.
A similar motif is attested elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an4 that it seems as if the hand of the poor is likened to His:
“Know they not that Allah Accepts repentance from His servants and takes the alms and that Allah Alone is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, the Most Gracious?”
The blessed Verse makes a reference to the exalted state of the God fearing by which they receive Divine Bounties from His Hand; in other words, they heavenly soul shall receive many a Bounty from its Origin.
“Indeed, they were formerly the good-doers [in this world]”
refers to the point that the God fearing believers attained to such exalted state of receiving Divine Bounties immediately from the Origin of Such Bounties owing to their piety and fearing God in their mundane life.
Qur’anic exegets maintain that:
“formerly” (qabla dhalik)
may refer to mundane life and reflect that the Reward of their doing righteous good deeds is that their pure souls receive Bounties from the Lord and they also receive Divine Blessings in their worldly life.
كَانُوا قَلِيلاً مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ
وَبِالْأسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ
وَفِي أمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ
17. They used to sleep but little by night.
18. And at dawn, they were invoking [Allah] for forgiveness.
19. And in their property there was the right of mendicants and the deprived.
The second attribute of the God fearing is made mention of in the blessed Verse 17, saying:
“They used to sleep but little by night.”
The verbal form yahja‘un is cognate with huju‘ (“night’s sleep”) deriving from the root h-j-‘. The blessed Verse may be interpreted in two ways: firstly, the God fearing are awake most of the night and sleep a short time at night; secondly, most of the nights they are awake worshipping God Almighty and few are the nights in which they sleep failing to be awake for the sake of worship.
In this vein, there is a tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) concerning the blessed Verse in question according to which he said:
Few are the night in which they sleep without rising [to worship God Almighty].”5
The blessed Verse 18 enumerates another attribute of the God fearing saying that they invoke God Almighty for forgiveness.
The blessed Verse reflects that istighfar designates asking God Almighty for forgiveness at night has a further merit: despite spending most of the night in worshipping God Almighty and what is desirable to the Divine Legislator (shari‘), the God fearing believer whose hear is purified devotes the dawn time to invoking God Almighty, the Oft-Forgiving, for forgiveness.
As some Qur’anic exegets maintain, the blessed Verse refers to the point that the God fearing are supposed to repeatedly invoke God Almighty for forgiveness following their nightly prayers unless they be deceived by formal worship imagining that they have attained to the exalted state of being close to God Almighty consigning to oblivion the Qur’anic Verse:
“Indeed Allah accepts [prayers] from the God fearing.”
Imam Sadiq (as) said:
“The best time for invocation to God Almighty is dawn, since Allah says:
‘And at dawn, they were invoking [Allah] for forgiveness.’”6
Regarding the blessed Verse in question, he said:
“It refers to invoking God Almighty seventy times for forgiveness in odd (witr) and night prayers.”7
According to a Prophetic tradition quoted in Durr al-Manthur:
“Late night is more desirable to me than early night for night prayers, since God Almighty says:
‘The God fearing invoke God Almighty for forgiveness at dawn.’”8
It is also narrated from Imam Sadiq (as):
“The good-doers who are the people of Paradise invoke God Almighty seventy times for forgiveness in their odd prayers at dawn.”9
The blessed Verse 19 enumerates another attribute of the God fearing saying that they determine certain portions for the poor in their property thereby they take the poor as their partners in their property. The Arabic word sa’il is applied to a poor man who expresses his poverty asking the rich to provide him with what is due to him. The word mahrum is applied to a gentleman whose continence impedes him from expressing his poverty and dire state.
وَفِي الْأرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ
وَفِي أنفُسِكُمْ أفَلَآ تُبْصِرُونَ
وَفِي السَّمَاء رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ
فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاء وَالْأرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِّثْلَ مَا أنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ
20. And on the earth are signs for those who have faith with certitude.
21. And also in [the creation of] your ownselves [are Signs of Divine Omnipotence, Grandeur, and Wisdom]. Will you not then see [with your inward sight]?
22. And in the heaven is [the preordainment of] your provision, and that which you are promised.
23. Then by the Lord of the heaven and the earth, it [Word of Ours] is the Truth, just as it is the truth that you can speak [in which you entertain no doubt, likewise entertain no doubt concerning Our Words].
According to the Holy Qur’an preparedness of heart is the prerequisite for finding Guidance and attaining to certitude through Signs of nature, the Book, and the Islamic faith;
(“And on the earth are signs for those who have faith with certitude”).
Many a secret lie behind the creation of the earth and that of mankind, including the mass, area, and depth of the earth, mountains and valleys, its distance from the sun and other planets, different motions of the earth, visible and invisible mines, vegetation, water reservoirs, colors, stones, soils, fruits, plants, refinement of the earth and its providing food and other provisions for its inhabitants all of which reflect the Signs of Divine Omnipotence and Wisdom to those seeking certitude.
Different states of the body, from conception onward serve as manifestations of Divine Omnipotence and man’s different instincts reflect the signs of His Omniscience and Wisdom as to man’s needs. The harmony between physical senses and their lack of consistency with each other, skeleton, nervous, respiratory, and digestion system well as sight, hearing, and defense mechanism are all signs of Divine Omnipotence.
Imam ‘Ali (as) says:
“God Almighty created you with hearing and sight; you become happy, angry, hungry, and thirsty.”10
The certain (mawqinin) are those who have attained the knowledge of certitude (‘ilm al-yaqin) through intellectual and narrational arguments and look at the earth in order to increase their certitude and knowledge so that they may perceive the Signs of Divine Attributes of Glory and Beauty.
They are attentive at all times to find Signs of Divine Mercy in all things so that through attentiveness and reflection they may attain to such state thereby they may perceive things as representatives of Divine Attributes and reach from knowledge of certitude to certitude by sight (‘ayn al-yaqin).
It is then that they see with their inward eye what is attributed to the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) as saying:
“His Signs are to be seen in all things, reflecting that He is One”;
Thus, they may perceive Divine Infinite Mercy in all creatures.
The blessed Verse 21 is addressed to all mankind.
The hamza (the glottal stop) in a-fa-la (“why not”) is an interrogative particle connoting censure for those who fail to perceive the Signs of Divine Omnipotence in themselves, nor do they see that whatever exists in macrocosm is an instance existing in human existence, since man is the only creature in him exist all the world of existence and the treasure of Divine Secrets; he is the only representative of Divine Attributes who at times soars in the infinite realm of the world of contingent being through the faculty of his spiritual soul and he is at times attracted by nature and plunges into the depth of the mire of materiality.
Despite his Divine vicegerency, he has blinded his inward eye and fails to perceive the Signs of the Divine in order to know Him.
Acquisition of the knowledge of the origin and Resurrection is dependent upon knowing one’s self. First of all, one is supposed to know one’s self in one’s own being as one is the Sign of the Existence of God Almighty so that one may acquire knowledge of the origin and Resurrection of one’s self as it is reflected in a generally transmitted and accepted (mashhur) tradition narrated from the Noble Prophet of Islam (S):
“One who knows his own self and truth, he has known his Lord.”
It is worthy of note that knowing one’s self is not solely dependent upon acquisition of knowledge concerning one’s body, natural faculties, and genealogy, but one who knows his own self through acquiring knowledge as to his createdness and knowing that he is the manifestation of Divine Existence and Attributes, he may know God Almighty within the limited capacity of his knowledge and existence.
It is narrated from the master of mystics, Imam ‘Ali (as), saying:
“Do you imagine that you are but a minute mass? But, macrocosm is encompassed in you.”
The blessed Verse 22 is saying that your provision and what is promised to you are in the heaven descending upon the earth through rain, snow, and sunlight thereby vegetation grows on which you feed. What is promised to you has been sent down as Divine Signs.
may refer to the celestial realm, namely the world of preordainment and the Preserved Tablet (lawh mahfud) including provision (rizq) preordained for man from the beginning of creation embracing physical and spiritual Bounties and also what is promised to the God fearing from Bounties in Paradise to the exalted states in the Hereafter through Divinely appointed Messengers.
Although the former meaning of provision, namely what constitutes man’s sustenance and/or natural requirements, occurs to mind at the first glance, but taking into account the clause
“and what is promised”
with the conjunct ‘and’ and the following blessed Verse:
“Then by the Lord of the heaven and the earth, it [Word of Ours] is the Truth, just as it is the truth that you can speak,”
it becomes evident that the general meaning is intended, since the antecedent of ‘it’ are seemingly the preceding blessed Verses in which oaths were taken as to the Lord, Distributor, and Organizer of the heaven and the earth. Such attributes were enumerated as belonging to the God fearing for whom states were specified.
It was also mentioned that man’s preordained provision and what is promised to them from worldly to otherworldly Bounties are certainly true, like your words of which you are certain. It is worthy of note that it would be unbefitting to swear by the provision prepared for man through rain, snow, and sunlight and thereby attempt to substantiate what is evident by such emphatic oaths.