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Surah ‘Adiyat, Chapter 100

(The Chargers)
Number of Verses: 11

Contents of the Surah

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

Opinions are divided as to the place where the revelation of this Surah took place; whether it was at Mecca or Medina.

The verses of the Surah are short; where oaths are emphasized on, and the Resurrection is seriously referred to. These are some characteristics which confirm that the Surah is Meccan.

But, on the other hand, the content of the oaths, of this Surah, refer mostly to the affairs of Holy War, which we will discuss in detail later, and also to the existence of the narrations which denote that this Surah was revealed after the war known as /that-us-salasil/, indicating that the Surah is Medinan, even though we consider that the introductory oaths of the Surah point to the movement of pilgrimages toward Mash'ar (Sacred Monument) and Mina.

(This war happened in the eighth year AH. in which many pagans were captured. They were bound in chains and that was why it was called the battle of /that-us-salasil/.)

With attention to all of the above, we prefer to consider this Surah Medinan.

From the aforementioned statements, it is understood that at the beginning of the Surah there are some awakening oaths and then, reference is made to some human weaknesses like blasphemy, miserliness, and mammonism. Concluding the Surah, a comprehensive hint is made to the Resurrection, and the fact that Allah knows everything about His servants.

The Virtue of Studying Surah 'Adiyat

On the virtue of reciting this Surah, the holy Prophet (S) is narrated to have said:

"He who recites this Surah will be rewarded ten good deeds as many as the number of the people who stay at Muzdalafah (Mash'ar, Sacred Monument) and gather witnessing it.”1

Another tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) says:

"He who recites Surah 'Adiyat and continues reciting it Allah will raise him up with Amir-al-Mo'mineen (Ali, (as)) on Doomsday and he will be with him (as) and his companions.”2

Some narrations denote that the virtue of reciting this Surah is as much as the virtue of reciting half of the Qur'an. 3

It is clear, without any explanation, that all these excellences are for those who believe in its contents thoroughly and act accordingly.

Surah ‘Adiyat, Verses 1-11

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

وَالْعَادِيَاتِ ضَبْحًا

فَالْمُورِيَاتِ قَدْحًا

فَالْمُغِيرَاتِ صُبْحًا

فَأَثَرْنَ بِهِ نَقْعًا

فَوَسَطْنَ بِهِ جَمْعًا

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لِرَبِّهِ لَكَنُودٌ

وَإِنَّهُ عَلَى ذَلِكَ لَشَهِيدٌ

وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ

أَفَلَا يَعْلَمُ إِذَا بُعْثِرَ مَا فِي الْقُبُورِ

وَحُصِّلَ مَا فِي الصُّدُورِ

إِنَّ رَبَّهُم بِهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّخَبِيرٌ

1. “By the panting chargers,"
2. “And by those that sprint striking fire (with their hooves),"
3. “And by those which charge at dawn,"
4. “And stir thereby the dust aloft,”
5. “And penetrate into the midst (of the enemy) En masse.
6. “Surely, man is ungrateful to his Lord;"
7. “And surely he is a witness to that;"
8. “And most surely he is tenacious in the love of wealth.”
9. “Does he not know, when that which is in the graves is raised,"
10. “And that which is in the breasts is made known,"
11. “Surely their Lord is aware of them on That Day?"

The Occasion of Revelation

A tradition says that this Surah was revealed after the occurrence of the war/ that-us-salasil/. the description is as follows:

In the eighth year A.H. the Prophet (S) of Islam was informed that twelve thousand strong had gathered in Yabis to make a sudden and very heavy attack on Medina to kill the Muslims, the holy Prophet and Ali (as) as well.

Upon receiving the news of this gathering of hostile forces. The holy Prophet (S) sent a group of the Muslim followers to them under the command of some of his companions, but they returned without gaining any positive result. Finally, he sent Hazrat Ali (as) with a great number of the emigrants (Muhajirs), and the helpers, under his command, to meet them.

They marched by night and kept themselves concealed by day and thus, they reached the enemy. Surrounding the enemy's forces, Hazrat Ali (as) offered them (to follow the religion of) Islam at first, but they did not accept it.

Then, the Muslims attacked them in the early hours of dawn when it was still dark and won an easy victory. Most of the enemy's men were killed, and those who remained, Ali (as) put them in chains and took them, with their collective properties, to the holy Prophet (S) in Medina.

Before the Muslim forces reached Medina, this Surah was revealed. The holy Prophet (S) came out early that very morning and recited this Surah in prayer. After finishing the prayer some Muslim followers told him that they had not heard that Surah before. Then, he agreed and added that Ali (as) defeated the enemies, and Gabriel, bringing that Surah, had informed him of it the previous night.

A few days later Hazrat Ali (as) entered Medina with the 'spoils of war' and captives. 4

Some believe that this is one of the clear examples of the verse and it is not an occasion of revelation.

By Those Which Raid At Dawn

As it was said earlier, this Surah begins with some awakening oaths.

At first, it says:

"By the panting chargers.”

Some believe that the verse means: 'By the camels, of pilgrims, which run with panting breath from 'Arafat to Mash'ar (Sacred Monument) and run from Mash 'ar to Mina.'

The term /‘adiyat/ is the plural form of /'adiyah/ based on /'adw/ that originally means 'to pass; to separate' and also 'enmity; running', but, here it means 'to run swiftly'.

The term /dabh/ means 'the sound of breathing hard of a running horse. '

As mentioned above, there are two different ideas in commenting on this verse.

The first idea says that the objective point of the oath is the horses which run swiftly towards the battlefields of Holy War, and since Holy War is a sacred action, these animals that run on its path are so worthy that they deserve to be sworn to.

The second idea considers the oath to be to the swift camels, of pilgrims, that run fast between the sacred places of Mecca and for the same reason they have a kind of sacredness that is fit to be sworn to.

On the occasion of revelation, of this Surah, some people, such as Ibn-Abbas and so on, have said that they are the horses that the Muslim fighters rode on to fight in the Battle of Badr, but Amir-al-Mo'mineen Ali (as) is narrated to have rejected this idea and said that there were only two horses in the Battle of Badr: One belonged to Zubayr and the other was Miqdad's.

On the contrary, they were the camels that ran from Arafat to Mash'ar and from Mash'ar to Mina'. Ibn-Abbas said when he heard that meaning from Hazrat Ali (as) he changed his mind and accepted the latter.

It is also probable that /‘adiyat/ has such a vast meaning, that consists of both the horses of the fighters and the camels of the, pilgrims, and the purpose of the above narration is that its meaning should not be limited to horses, because this meaning is not right everywhere such as the clear example of it being the camels of pilgrims.

In some respects, this commentary seems more appropriate.

"And by those that sprint striking fire (with their hooves).”

The chargers pant, in war, obeying their masters. They sprint so fast that fire, which can be seen brighter at night, strikes from their hooves. Or, the camels, in Hajj pilgrimage, that run swiftly from one station to another, kick gravel from under their feet which strike each, other and sometimes causes sparks to appear.

The term /miiriyat/ is the plural form of /muriyah / derived from /ira'/ which means 'to make fire'; and the term /qadh/ means 'to strike pieces of stone, wood, iron or flint to each other in order to produce sparks. '

Then, in the third oath, it says:

"And by those which charge at dawn.”

It was a custom of the Arabs, as Tabarsi cites in Majma'-al-Bayan, that they used to approach their foe by night and waited until dawn to make their attack.

In describing the occasion of revelation of these verses (or one of its clear examples) it was said that the troops of Islam under the leadership of Hazrat Ali (as) went toward the enemy by night. After reaching the foe they waited nearby until dawn when they attacked them quickly and violently and defeated them before they could show a considerable reaction.

And if the oaths refer to the camels of pilgrims, the purpose of this verse is 'the rush of camels from Mash'ar to Mina at the dawn of the Day of Sacrifice'.

The term /muqirat/ is the plural form of /muqirat/ based on /iqarat/ with the sense of 'to invade; raid; attack', and since this invasion is sometimes done with the purpose of taking the wealth of others, it is also used in the sense of 'predatory invasion'.

Then, it points to another speciality of those warriors and the mounts they ride on, saying:

"And stir thereby the dust aloft".

Or, because of the invasion of the camels, of pilgrims, from Mash'ar to Mina, the dust raised in the air.

The term /aearna/ derived from /itharah / has the meaning of raising 'dust or smoke' and sometimes, it has been used in the sense of 'evoking, stirring' and also with the meaning of the 'broadcasting of the sound waves in space'.

The term /naq'/ means 'dust' and it originally means 'to sink in water; to soak' and since going through dust is similar to that, this word has been employed for it.

For the last characteristic of their specialities it says:

"And penetrate into the midst (of the enemy)”.

That attack was so quick and all of a sudden that the believers could cleave the enemy's force in a very short time and rushed into the midst of them to destroy them. That victory was obtained because of a swift action and the awareness, preparedness and courageousness of the believing warriors.

Or, it refers to the arrival of the pilgrims from Mash'ar into the center of Mina.

On the whole, we can conclude that the oaths are made to the chargers, to the brave defenders of Faith, to the panting breaths of the mounts of the warriors, to the striking fire from their hooves, to their swift attack, to the particles of dust scattered in the air, and finally to their penetration into the midst of the foe and to their victory.

Although these ideas are not totally mentioned in the meanings of these oaths, they are all gathered in the implication of the words. Furthermore, they show how important the Holy War is.

Some have said that the oaths refer to the persons who can convey their virtues to others, make the sparks of knowledge manifest with their thoughts, attack at low desires and raise the level of the love for Allah both in themselves and others, and finally, dwell in the midst of those who are in

'llliyin, 'Heaven'.5

But, it clearly seems that these interpretations cannot be accepted as the commentary of the above verses except as being as a comparison regarding the commentary of the verse which is under discussion.

The substantive proposition of the great oaths, that is, what the oaths are taken for, is mentioned in verses 6-8 below.

It says:

"Surely, man is ungrateful to his Lord".

Man, i.e. unregenerate man who forgets or denies the divine guidance and the Prophets' preachings, and submits himself to his lusts, is surely ungrateful, and grossly selfish to his Lord and Cherisher.

The term /kanud/ is used for 'a land wherein nothing grows, or a person who is ungrateful and miserly'.

Commentators have cited about fifteen different meanings for the term /kanud/, but, they are, more or less, branches of the same as the original meaning cited above.

The holy Prophet (S) said about it in a tradition:

“The one who with holds his help (from others), and beats his servant is 'kanud'.6

On the whole,

/kanud/ ‘an ungrateful man',

here is in contrast with those who receive guidance and wage unceasing war with evil, then, some have commented on it as being an 'unbeliever'.

"And surely he is a witness to that".

Man is a witness to that because he has insight into himself. If he could conceal his true inner character from others he would not be able to hide it from Allah and his own conscience; whether he confesses this fact or not.

Some have said that the pronoun in /innahu/ refers to Allah, i.e. Allah is the witness to Man who has the quality of being

'ungrateful'.

But, regarding the verses before and after this verse whose similar pronouns refer to Man, this possibility seems very improbable, though many commentators have preferred this commentary.

It is also probable that the purpose is the witness of Man to his sins and wrong actions on the Day of Judgement, as many verses of the Qur'an confirm.

This very last commentary, here goes without saying that Man is his own witness. The verse has a broad meaning so that it envelops the idea that Man is witness to his own ungratefulness and miserliness in this world, too.

It is true that Man is sometimes unable to know himself so he deceives his conscience and then his hideous evil behaviour with the ornament of Satan, appears to him beautiful and correct; but for the problem of ungratefulness and miserliness, the case is so clear that he cannot conceal it or deceive his conscience.

Again, in the next verse, it says:

"And most surely he is tenacious in the love of wealth".

And the same tenaciousness in the love of wealth causes his ungratefulness and miserliness.

The term /xayr/ has a vast meaning including any good or goodness such as charity, gifts of money or kind, public welfare, knowledge, Heaven, happiness, etc. Certainly, the love of them is not a reproachable thing that the Qur'an blames in the above sense. That is why the commentators have rendered it, here into 'wealth' which has sense both in the above verse and in some other verses of the Qur'an.

For example, Surah Baqara, No. 2, verse 180 says:

"It is prescribed, when death approaches any of you, if you leave any goods, that you make a bequest to parents and next of kin...”

Surely using the term /xayr/ for the sense of 'wealth' is for the sake of wealth, itself, which is a good thing because it can be the means of doing numerous kinds of good, however, the ungrateful disbelieving man changes its real goal and uses it in the way of self-interest.

Then, in the next verses, where interrogation is for an emphasis, with a threatening tone, it says:

"Does he not know, when that which is in the graves is raised"?
"And that which is in the breasts is made known?"
"Surely their Lord is aware of them on That Day"

The term /bu'thira/ is based on /ba'tharat/ and originally means 'to scatter abroad; turn upside down' and since the graves turn upside down when the dead rise and what is in them appears, then, this meaning has been used for the Resurrection.

The term /qubur/ is the plural form of /qabr/ ‘grave' and is used for the place that covers the corpse from the sight of Mankind, because some people have no grave, for instance, like those whose corpses are sunk in the sea or are burnt and the remaining ashes scattered, so the term has a broad meaning here.

The term /hussila/ is derived from /tahsil/ which means, here 'to make manifest'. The deeds of everyone, good or evil, will be made manifest on the Day of Judgement and they will be rewarded accordingly.

It is similar to what Surah Tariq, No. 86, verse 9 says:

"On the Day when hidden things will be made manifest".

We know that Allah always knows everything, but the idea of 'That Day' is an emphasis on this matter that He knows all their secrets and on that Day, which is the day of retribution, He will reward them their deeds and beliefs.

Yes, Allah is always aware and in all circumstances, knows any secret that we have, inside or out, but the fruit of this awareness is more clear and more tangible for us in the Hereafter when we receive our reward or penalty. This is also a warning to all Mankind, the belief of which is a firm barrier between them and sins whether they are clear or hidden, outside or in. The training effect of this belief is not concealed from anyone.

Explanation: Is Man Naturally Ungrateful?

It is possible that some persons think of the verse:

"Surely man is ungrateful to his Lord"

in a way that the state of being

'ungrateful'

is within the nature of all men. If so, how does it adapt to the invitation of Man's innate nature and wakeful conscience to giving thanks to the Benefactor?

A similar state to this question is found in many verses of the Holy Qur'an which introduces Man to some cases of his weaknesses.

For example, in Surah Ahzab, No. 33, Verse 72 it says:

“...He was indeed unjust and foolish (ignorant)”.

Surah Ma'arij, No. 70, Verse 19 qualifies Man as

'impatient',

saying:

"Truly man was created impatient".

Surah Hud, No 11, Verse 9 says:

“...he is in despair and (falls into) blasphemy".

And Surah 'Alaq, No. 96, Verse 6 says about him:

"Nay! Most surely man does transgress (all bounds)”.

Are all these weaknesses really found in Man? Surah Asra, No. 17, Verse 70 stipulates that:

"We have honoured the sons of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and confessed on them special favours, above a great part of Our Creation".

Taking note of one point makes the answer to this question clear. The point is that Man has two poles in his entity and it is for the same reason that he can be the best of all in one dimension, or be the worst unto the lowest of the low in another.

If he accepts the guidance of the divine educators, the lessons of the prophets, and follows the inspirations of his conscience in self-perfection, he will become an example of those about whom Allah says:

"We have honoured the sons of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea, given them for sustenance things good and pure, and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our Creation".

But, if he turns his back on Faith and piety and goes astray from the path of the divine prophets, he changes into an 'unjust', 'ignorant', 'desperate', 'impatient' and 'ungrateful' ingrate.

Thus, there would be no contrast found in them, but, each of them refers to one of the dimensions (poles) of Man.

Yes, Man can obtain all the good things, virtues, and honours whose origin is inside Man's own nature, as he can go unto the farthest point of the opposite direction. That is why no creature in the world is able to cover such a large and long distance between these two extremes of high and low.

Supplication

O Lord! Bestow on us the success of being in the Holy War on the way of gaining Your pleasure.

O Lord! The despotic soul tends towards ungratefulness and blasphemy; please, save us from its harm.

O Lord! You know the apparent and hidden secrets of all, and You know our actions; treat us with Your Mercy and Kindness.

  • 1. Majma'-al-Bayan. vol. 10, p. 527.
  • 2. Ibid
  • 3. Durr-al-Manthur, vol. 6, p. 383.
  • 4. Bihar-al-Anwar, vol. 21, p. 66 ; and Majma'-al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 528.
  • 5. Tafsir-i-Baydawi, p. 495.
  • 6. Majma'-al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 530.

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