Surah Inshiqaq, Chapter 84

(The Rending Asunder)
Number of Verses: 25

(After reading certain verses of Qur'an it is an obligation to do prostration after their recitation, so we have chosen this mark * to help you find these verses within the text.)

Contents of the Surah

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

This Surah, like many other Surahs of the last part of the holy Qur'an, talks about the Resurrection. First, there are some references to the awful events of the time when this world ends and the New World begins.

Then, it speaks about the resurrection and The Reckoning of the good-doers and evildoers and their ultimate end. Further, it refers to the deeds and beliefs of the disbelievers which bring about Allah’s punishment on them. And then, after some oaths, it touches on the different stages man goes through during and after his life. Finally, it returns to speaking about the good and evil actions of man and his rewards or punishments on That Day.

The Virtue In Studying This Surah

There is a tradition from the Prophet (S) which says:

"He who studies Surah Inshiqaq Allah will make him safe from being given his Record from behind his back (on the reckoning Day)”.

There is a narration from Imam Sadiq, written in the book ‘Thawab-al-A'mal', which says:

"He who recites those two Surahs: Infitar and Inshiqaq, and considers them present before his eyes in his obligatory and optional prayers, nothing will separate him from Allah. He will be in he continuous presence of Allah and Allah will be looking over him until all of the accounts he has with others are settled."

Surah Inshiqaq, Verses 1-9

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انْشَقَّتْ

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ

وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ

فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا

وَيَنْقَلِبُ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

1. "When the Sky is rent asunder,”
2. "And obeys its Lord, and it must;"
3. "And when the Earth is flattened out,”
4. "And casts forth what is within it and becomes empty,”
5. "And obeys its Lord, and it must;”
6. "O man! Surely you are ever toiling on towards your Lord; painfully toiling, until you meet Him."
7. "Then he who is given his Record in his right hand,”
8. "Soon he will be reckoned with by an easy reckoning,”
9. "And he will return unto his people in joy."

A Hard Struggle Towards Absolute Perfection:

As it was said in the description of the content of the Surah, at the beginning of the Surah it talks about the awful and amazing events which will happen at the end of this world.

It says:

"When the Sky is rent asunder,”

(and the celestial bodies burst asunder and lose their order and regularity).

An idea similar to that is mentioned at the beginning of Surah Infitar, No. 82, verses 1-2 where it says:

"When the Sky is cleft asunder,”
"When the planets are scattered",

and this is an announcement for the destruction and the end to this material world.

"And obeys its Lord, and it must;"

No one might suppose that the Sky, which is great and seemingly vast and limitless, would have the least resistance against this divine order. It, like an obedient person, resigns to the Order, perfectly.

The term /athinat/ is derived from /uthun/ 'ear' meaning 'to listen to'; and here, metaphorically means 'to obey the Command'.

The term /huqqat/ is based on /haqq/ and means 'fit, need, or deserve'.

How can the earth and the sky not obey when they are created things and they must necessarily obey their Creator since their very nature as a created being requires that they must hearken to the call of their Creator, and they not only did so from the beginning as Surah Fussilat, No. 41 verse 11 says:

"...they said 'we do come (together), in willing obedience’",

but they also obey Allah’s' command for their dissolution.

Some have also said that the purpose of the term /huqqat/ is that the fear of the Hereafter is so terrible that the Sky deserves to be cleft asunder. However, the first commentary seems more fitting.

Then it points to the state of the earth and says:

"And when the Earth is flattened out''.

Many verses in the Qur'an say that mountains will be uprooted, totally, and left as plains; smooth and level, and the earth will be flattened and large enough for all human beings to gather on.

This is said in Surah ‘Ta-ha No. 20, verses 105-107:

"They ask thee concerning the Mountains: say, 'My Lord will uproot them and scatter them as dust;'”
"He will leave them as plains smooth and level;"
''Nothing crooked or curved will thou see in their place".

And the Great Judgment, where all human beings, from the beginning to the end, are gathered, needs such a large and level place.

Some commentators have said that on That Day Allah spreads the present earth, much larger than it is now, in order to make room enough for all of His creatures.

"And casts forth what is within it and becomes empty."

The consensus of scholars say that the meaning of the verse is that the Earth will suddenly cast forth what it has within its soil, of dead bodies, who will then have a re-birth for the eternal life.

This is the same idea set forth in Surah Zilzal, No. 99, verse 2:

"And the Earth throws up her burdens (from within)."

And, it is also similar to what is said in Surah Nazi’at, No. 79, verses 13-14:

"But it shall be only a single blast,”
"When, behold, they shall be in the awakened state."

Some commentators have said that besides human beings, mines and treasures, hidden within the soil, will erupt.

It is also probable that the verse refers to the idea that molten lava, within the earth, will be carried out by violent and terrible earthquakes which then covers the surface of the earth and makes it level. Thereafter, the interior of the earth will be empty and quiet.

All of the above three commentaries, combined, are also possible.

"And obeys its Lord, and it must."

These events, which correlate with the submission of all creatures, indicate the destruction of the universe: the earth, the sky, treasures which, all-in-all, come to an end and give way to a new stage of life; the Eternal life.

Moreover, as signs, they make it clear that Allah domain is over everything, especially the Resurrection.

Verily, man will be faced with the result of his actions; good or evil, when these events occur.

Then, addressing mankind, it tells them of the fate on their path:

“O man! Surely you are ever toiling on towards your Lord; painfully toiling, until you meet Him.”

The term /kadh/ means ' toil ' and 'labour', or 'striving hard’.

In the commentaries of 'Kashshaf ' and 'Fakhr-i-Razi' and also 'Ruh-al-Amin' the term has been meant as 'a scratch on the skin of the body'. That is why it is used for the struggles which affect man's spirit.

This verse points to a great principle throughout everyone's life. It says that this life is perpetually saturated with pain and labour, when it is for obtaining the articles of this world, and even more so for the eternal happiness and for gaining Allah’s favour. This is the nature of this world. Even those who live a very good life are not at all free from pain and labour.

The term


used in this verse refers to either the meeting at the Gathering Place, in the Hereafter, before the throne of Allah’s Absolute Judgment for all, or meeting His Reward or Punishment, or meeting Him through one's intuition, and shows that the pain and the labour will continue until That Day. When it finishes, one meets his Lord after death, with one's pure and good deeds, of course.

man, in the sense of all human beings, and stressing on the humanity of the human, is addressed by the verse, and this tells us the fact that Allah has created the required faculties in man to pave the way from the beginning to the end.

The emphasis on the term


points to another fact. That is, that this troublesome effort of life is a part of the Divine program towards man's development.

Verily, we are travellers, from nothing, who have entered the realm of existence and are going to the Abode of Love with the hope that we shall meet Him.

This idea is mentioned in some other verses, of the Qur'an.

For example, in Surah Najm, No. 53, verse 42 it says:

"That to thy Lord is the final Goal”.

And also in Surah Fatir, No. 35, verse 18 it says:

“...and the destination (of all) is to Allah."

And there are also other verses, in the Qur'an, all of which denote that the permanent process of development for all creatures is unto Almighty Allah.

But, here, men are divided into two groups, as it says:

"Then he who is given his Record in his right hand,”
“Soon he will be reckoned with by an easy reckoning,”
“And he will return unto his people in joy."

This group of people are those who act and use their gifts in the same way that Allah has guided man to do. All their efforts and endeavours are for the sake of Allah and their entire movements are always unto Allah.

There, they are given their Records in their right hand and that shows the purity of their deeds, the correctness of their faith, and their deliverance in the Hereafter that will bring them joy and happiness; an honour to all human beings gathered there.

When they stand in front of the Scale (for reckoning), that which is very just, Allah reckons with them easily: He forgives them of their faults and, because of their strong faith and good acts, changes their sins into good deeds.

Some commentators have said that the meaning of 'an easy reckoning ' is an account which is taken easily and not with accuracy and severity; in which sins are forgiven and good deeds are given reward.

There is a tradition from the Prophet (S) which says:

"Allah takes the account easy of he who has three characteristics and lets him go into Heaven with His Mercy.”

“What are they?"

They asked, and he answered,

"To be generous to the person who deprived you; to join to the one who ceased from you; and to forgive those who hurt you”.

This matter is also understood from some narrations that accuracy and severity with reckoning, in the Hereafter, depends on one's wisdom and knowledge, as a narration from Imam Baqir (as) says:

"In the Hereafter and on the Day of Judgment, Allah, the Almighty, will exact a detailed account from his servants, in exact proportion to the reason with which He has endowed them in the worldly life".1

The opinions for the commentary about /ahl /are divided. Some commentators have said that the objective meaning is 'one's believing wife and children' that only believers will obtain in Heaven. The very thing, that a person meets his beloved members, in Heaven, and is with them there, is a great blessing in itself.

Some other commentators have said that it means 'the angels belonging to the believing servants in Heaven'. Still others have meant /ahl/ as the believing persons whom were loved by one in this life and they were on the same level with him.

All of them combined are also probable.


A Surprising Narration!

It is narrated from Amir-al-Mo’mineen Ali (as) who commented about the verse:

“When the Sky is rent asunder"

and said:

''The skies will separate from the galaxy”.

This narration is meaningful and noteworthy. It is considered among the miracles of science. It opens a secret which none of the scientists of that time knew.

But, nowadays astronomers, with the help of their observations through their great and powerful telescopes, have proven that the universe is a collection of galaxies, each of which is in the form of many systems and stars, and that is why they are called 'star cities'. The Milky Way, a known galaxy, is visible at night and is a great collection of these very systems and stars.

One side of it is so far from us that its stars seem to be only a massive white cloud, but actually it is a group of lights close together, indeed.

The other side of it, which is nearer to us, is formed by visible stars; the same stars which we see in the sky at night. Then, our solar system is a part of this galaxy; the Milky Way.

According to the above narration, Hazrat Ali (as) says that at the threshold of the Hereafter the stars that we primarily see in the sky will separate from the galaxy and lose their order completely.

In those days, no one knew that the stars we see in the sky were really parts of the Milky Way, but only he whose heart was connected to the unseen world and whose knowledge was derived from the divine source could know.

This Life is Full of Pain and Labour

The term /kadih/, used in the verse, denotes that every effort and endeavour is with pain and trouble. The verse addresses all individuals and states the fact that the nature of life, in this world at any stage, is full of toil and misery, bodily, mentally or both, combined, and no one is an exception.

There is a very meaningful tradition narrated from Imam Ali-ibn-al-Hosain (as) which says:

"There is no ease and comfort in the world for the people of this world. It is found only in Heaven and for the people of Heaven. Toil and labour are in this world and for the people of this world.

Each one of them who gets a share of it, has doubled the greed. And those who have more property and things of this world are more needful, because they need other people and some tools to keep and protect the things that they have accumulated. Then, there is no comfort in the wealth of this world.”

So Imam (as) adds at the end that:

"Nay, the friends of Allah never bear pain in this world for this world, but they bear it in this world for the Next World."2

Surah Inshiqaq, Verses 10-15

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِهِ

فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا

وَيَصْلَىٰ سَعِيرًا

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ يَحُورَ

بَلَىٰ إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا

10. "But he who is given his Record behind his back,”
11. "Soon he will cry for Perdition,”
12. “And enter a Blazing Fire."
13. “Truly, he was (erstwhile) joyful among his people!”
14. "Truly he thought that he would never return (to his Lord)”
15. "Yes indeed! Surely his Lord was (ever) watchful of him”

Those Who Hold Their Record Behind Their Back!

In contrast to the aforementioned verses, which were about those who are given their Record in their right hand, these verses are about the unbelievers and how they are given their Records.

At first, it says:

“But he who is given his Record behind his back,”
“Soon he will cry for Perdition,”
“And enter a Blazing Fire.”

The commentators have delivered different ideas about this verse which says

'They are given their Records behind their back’,

and those verses which say

'Their Records are given to their left hand'.

Some commentators have said that their right hand is tied to their neck with chains so, that is why their Records are given to their left hand from their back and it is a sign of degradation and shame.

Some others have said that their hands are not free; they are tied behind their back like those of captives and, thus, they can only receive their Records in their left hand behind their back.

Then, still others have said that by noting Surah Nisa. No.4, verse 47 which says:

“...before We alter faces then turn them on their back...”,

it can be understood that the faces of this group of wicked ones have been turned to their back and they have to read their Records themselves; the Records are given to their left hand behind their back.

It is more agreeable to say that the doers of good take their Record happily in their right hand and call, with pride and boasting to others in the Hereafter:

“Ah here! Read ye my Record!"3.

But, when the wicked are given their Record in their left hand, they will keep it behind their back shamefully in order for it not to be seen by others, but unfortunately it is of no use, because nothing is hidden there.

They cry for perdition, but it will be in vain and they will receive the command:

"And enter n Blazing Fire";

that is, they will arrive at the blazing fire of Hell.

Then, the cause of this awful case is described and it says:

"Truly, he was (erstwhile) joyful among his people.”

It was a joy of pride, and the pride originated from neglect and being forgetful of Allah. His self-complacence and self-conceit, in his lower life, will now give way to weeping and misery.

It is clear that joy or happiness is not naturally blamed or forbidden, but a believer should be hopeful and happy of Allah’s Grace, and be always rejoicing and good tempered with others when interacting with them. That joy is blameworthy which makes people forgetful of Allah, and entangles them only in their lusts.

"Truly he thought that he would never return (to his Lord)!”.

In fact, the true source of his misery and corrupted idea was his denial of the Resurrection, that which made him proud and exaltant and, thus, he became drunk with lusts and far from the Reality; Allah, in so far as he mocked the Mission of the prophets, and when he went to his people he was happy with this mockery.

This very idea is mentioned in Surah Mutaffifin, No. 83, verse 31:

"And when they returned to their people they returned jesting ,”

and also in the story of the wealthy Qarun who was doubtful of Allah, some of his people told him

“...Exult not, for Allah loveth not those who exult (in riches)"4.

The term

/lanyahur/ 'he would never return'

is based on /haur/ which originally means 'go to and fro' whether in deed or in thought.

The term /mihwar/ 'axis’, /muhawarah/ 'answers for answers, dehate', /hiwar/ 'a loud voice in dialogue', /tahayyur/ 'astonishment', and

/hawariyun/ 'companions of Jesus'

are from the same root.

But, on the whole, this word which has been used in this verse means 'return' and 'resurrection’.

Meanwhile, this verse shows that the lack of belief in the Resurrection is the origin of carelessness, pride, and corruption.

In the last verse of this portion of the verses, for the negation of their false belief, it says:

“Yes indeed! Surely his Lord was (ever) watchful of him",

and recorded all of man's acts, totally, and kept the Record for the coming Reckoning Day.

The idea, in this verse, is an evidence for the Resurrection, as verse 6 was:

"O man! Surely you are ever toiling on towards your Lord; painfully toiling, until you meet Him”.

Both of them emphasize on the term


because the process of man's development towards his Lord can never end with his death. The final goal is beyond the only life in this world.

Allah’s watchfulness over man's actions and the record of the deeds are not done in vain. They are certainly primary to the final Judgment and, consequently, to the Reward and the punishment.

Surah Inshiqaq, Verses 16-25

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ

وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ

لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَنْ طَبَقٍ

فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ

بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُكَذِّبُونَ

وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ

فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

16. "But nay! I swear by the glow of the sunset,”
17. "And by the night and that which it gathers together (in one herd)”.
18. "And the moon when it grows full,”
19. "That you shall most certainly enter one stage after another."
20. "What then is the matter with them that they do not believe?”
21. "And when the Qur'an is recited to them they do not fail prostrate” *
22. "Nay, those who disbelieve reject (it)."
23. "And Allah knows best what they keep secret (in their breasts)."
24. "So announce to them a painful punishment,”
25. "Except those who believe and work righteous deeds: for them is a reward unending.”

You Are Continuously Changing.

After the description of man's development, stage by stage, unto his Lord that we had discussed in the former verses, we will see a conformation of the same fact, with more details, in the following verses.

It says:

"But Nay! I swear by the glow of the sunset,”
“And by the night, and that which it gathers together (in one herd)”.
"And the moon when it grows full,”
“That you shall most certainly enter one stage after another."

The word /la/ in the term /fa-la-uqsimu/ is expletive and is used for emphasis, here.

The term /ŝafaq/, here, as Raqib cites in Mufradat, means 'redness' of the sky after sunset which mixes with the darkness of nightfall.

Fakhr-i-Razi believes that the term /ŝafaq/ originally means 'thinness', and therefore, a very thin dress is called /ŝafaq/ and /ŝafaqat/ is used in the case of one having a 'thin' heart. (But, Raqib's statement seems to be more appropriate).

In any case, Allah swears by it to make everyone think about this beautiful natural phenomenon, because 'sunset' announces a deep revelation in the world, that is, the day ends and the night begins, and also, it is the time of the sunset prayer; 'Maghrib'.

To swear by the night is for the reason that night is a hiding place for secrets and mysteries.

The term /wasaq/, conveying the meaning of 'to gather together (in one herd)', points to one of the great secrets of the night. At nightfall all the wandering flocks and herds come home. The men that had scattered abroad, for their livelihood, return home to rest and sleep.

The night collects them in their homes.

This idea is also carried in Surah Mo'min, No. 40, verse 61 when it says:

“It is Allah who has made the Night for you, that you may rest therein...”

The moon and its glorious silver light, especially when it is full at night, is one of Allah’s signs and that is why He swears by it.

It is interesting to note that these four parts point to the cases and varieties that continually occur in the created world: the sun sets, its redness appears in the sky, living creatures rush to their home, and the moon rises in full.

It should be noted that on the night before the fourteenth day of the month, the moon rises from the beginning of the night, by which these oaths are said, and that is a basis for the verse:

“That you shall most certainly enter one stage after another",

which illustrates the different states in the life of man.

There are various commentaries for this sentence. Some of them are as follows:

1. Man travels and ascends, stage by stage, towards the Absolute perfection. He strives hard; first in this world, then in the partition and then in Resurrection, with the different states that they have.

2. Man has different stages of development, from the time he is the sperm form, until death. They are considered about thirty seven stages by some people.

3. Man bears various opposites in his life: health and sickness, chess and happiness, hardship and ease, war and peace.

4. Man will face many different hard situations in the Hereafter until he receives the consequence of his reckoning; Heaven or Hell.

5. In ancient times people had many varieties of pleasant and unpleasant adventures; or that the unbelieving people among the Muslim community displayed various denials and rejections of Islam. This idea is said to be narrated from Imam Sadiq (as).

All the above commentaries are possible, of course, and the verse may refer to all of them together.

In any event, the occurrence of these states to man and the lack of constancy in his position, on the one hand, is an evidence to the fact at he is 'a created thing' and necessarily has a Creator, because every changeable thing is a creature and all creatures have a Creator; and on the other hand, it is an evidence to the lack of immortality for this world; also it is a sign for man's constant movement and development toward his Lord, to the Resurrection; as was mentioned in verse 6:

"O man! Surely you are ever toiling on towards your Lord; painfully toiling, until you meet Him."

Then, as a general consequence it inquires:

“What then is the matter with them that they do not believe?”

How can they ignore the immense gifts and benefits they have from Allah? They have clear evidences and signs for theism, theology and Resurrection, both in outer nature like day and night, sun and moon, light and darkness, sunrise and sunset with its redness; and inner nature from the mother's womb in the form of sperm; to other stages one after another until death, but they do not believe. Why do they not accept of Allah’s grace instead of disputing about it?

Then it turns from the creation to the revelation and says:

“And when the Qur'an is recited to them they do not fall prostrate.” *

The Holy Qur’an is so bright and clear that it is a good evidence for itself and that its content is from the Divine source.


here, means 'humble gratitude to Allah', and

'to fall prostrate'

which is the act of putting the forehead on the ground for the prayer, is one of the examples of this general sense. Perhaps for the same reason, as it is narrated, when the Prophet (S) recited these verses he fell prostrate.

“Nay, those who disbelieve reject (it).”

The verb form used in the Arabic text, which is usually applied in a continuous case, shows their constant rejection. That constancy was not because of the revelation being inadequate, but it was based on their blind imitation of their father's behaviour and following their own interests and their lusts.

“And Allah knows best what they keep secret (in their breasts)”.

Allah is aware of their thoughts and aims, and, also, of the motives causing those constant rejections. Then, whatever more they keep secret, finally He will punish them.

The term /yu'un/ is derived from /wi’a'/ 'container'. The very word is used in a statement narrated from Hazrat Ali (as) in Nahj-ul-Balagha which says:

“Verily these hearts are containers. The best of them is that which has a better ability to preserve its contents and a bigger capacity to hold more”.

“So give them tiding of a painful punishment”.

The term /baŝŝir/ is usually used for 'announcing good news' but, sometimes, it is used ironically. The believers are informed of the immense blessings of Heaven while blame is put on the unbelievers and causes them to be regretful and begrudging.

In the last verse of this Surah, the fate of those good-doers from among the believers is again mentioned as an exception where it says:

“Except those who believe and work righteous deeds: for them is a reward unending.”

The term /mamnun/ is derived from /mann/ which means both 'cease' and 'decline' and also 'indebtedness'.

The word

/manun/ 'death'

is, also, based on it. All these senses may be understood from the term, in this verse, because, inspite of the blessings in this human world, which are diminishable and ever changing and often mixed with undesired consequences or indebtedness given by this person or that person, the blessings of that spiritual world are followed by no indebtedness, declension or undesired consequences.

This exception is apparently joined to the earlier descriptions, about the unbelievers in the former verses, in order to give a way to the disbelievers and to say that certainly that painful punishment will be removed from those who repent and believe and do good and they will given a Reward that will never fail.


The late 'Tabarsi' in 'MaJma'-al-Bayan' has rendered the last verses of this Surah to mean 'free-will', since it is not praiseworthy for Allah, the Wisest, to blame those who do not fall prostrate and believe, when they are forced to.

And, when it says:

“What then is the matter with them that they do not believe?”,
“And when the Qur'an is recited to them they do not fall prostrate”, *

is a clear evidence for 'free-will'. Again, blame for leaving the prostration is a reason for the fact that the disbelievers should not only follow the primary Principles of religion, but, also should perform the secondary precepts of religion, as well.


O Lord! Take our reckoning easy on the Day when all attend at Your Judgment.

O Lord! Help us to go the Right Path when all human beings are ever toiling on towards You until they meet You.

O Lord! We have obeyed Your Message, the Holy Qur'an, bestow on us the grace to act accordingly.

  • 1. Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 537.
  • 2. Khisal-i-Saduq, vol. 1, Chapter: 'This World and the Next World'
  • 3. Surah Haqqa, No. 69, verse 19
  • 4. Surah Qasas. No. 28, verse 76