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Exegetes, Sunni and Shi'i, typically understand this verse to refer to the Day of Judgment.

Yawm, when used in this way in the Qur'an, typically refers to the Day of Judgment, as does the verb nab'ath (to resurrect from the dead).

The verses immediately before and after this one also appear to speak about the Day of Judgment; for instance, they speak of the Day when people submit directly to Allah (not a secondary agent, such as the Mahdi), and will see punishment directly from Allah (rather than through a secondary means, such as warfare, which is predicted to occur at the end times).

In this section, it also says that those who associated partners with Allah will see those partners, but this usually does not happen in this world, especially if those partners are non-physical beings such as angels or demigods, or intangible things like digital currency. However, after death, everything is made visible.

So the most likely interpretation is that the verse refers to the Day of Judgment.

Furthermore, to my recollection, narrations about the time of the Mahdi (A) on earth do not speak of witnesses coming from nations and presenting themselves for judgment. Instead, at that time, nations will split up: people will differ individually; some will follow him and some will not.

Rather, the Mahdi will be the witness over everyone since he will ultimately have rule over the planet, and (at least according to Shia belief) he has divinely granted knowledge about everyone.

As for why one witness is mentioned - Possibly, one witness is mentioned for each nation because a single witness will be able to bear witness to the nation as a whole. (On the topic of nations, here are some reflections by 'Allamah Tabataba'i about nations:

It is also narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (A) that every nation and every time has a witness; therefore, if each nation is different at a different time, it may have a witness for each time period. (For instance, Italy might have a witness for the pre-Roman period, the time of the ancient Roman Empire, the Christian Roman Empire, the modern nation-state of Italy, etc.; or those might be treated as different "nations".)

For the Muslim ummah, it is said that the witness is probably the Prophet (S) or the Imams (A), who would have access to knowledge of all the deeds of the nation. Some might argue that the witness is someone else who simply bears witness to the deeds, even if the Prophet and Imams are able to bear witness to all.

So, from all angles, the verse seems to speak about the Day of Judgment. However, as with many ayat of the Qur'an, the exact meaning of the ayah is open to interpretation, and sometimes the important thing is to ponder on what the meaning could be and see what one can take from it.

From the Qur'an and hadith, it is understood that every action is recorded, known, visible, and considered on the Day of Judgment, in light of the circumstances (for instance, intention, accidental deeds, and so forth), except for things which have been genuinely forgiven and which are erased.

However, we hope for Allah's mercy in accounting!

Jinns have believers and non believers as we read in Quran in Sura Al-Jinn, verse 11. They will judged on the Day of Judgement and righteous faithful will be granted their reward, while non believers will get their punishment in hellfire  (Many Jinns and humans will go to hellfire as they had hearts but they refused to understand the truth) (Sura 7, verse 179).

We are not concerned nor been asked to research or ask how and where Jinns will be. They belong to a different world from our world. There are thousands of different worlds created by Allah, and we are not concerned where they will be and how. We are concerned with own future and responsible to believe in and follow the Truth from The Prophet and Ahlul Bayt.


Allah is The Most Merciful Who showers His Mercy on us all the times. He wants us to avoid sinful acts and never insist on wrong, so that He forgives our sins when we sincerely repent and seek forgiveness. Sinners who insist on doing wrong and never care to repent, will face the results of their own deeds. Allah's Mercy does not allow punishment for sins we have repented, nor repeating a punishment which has already been given.

The Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah, is above our imagination. His Mercy and Forgiveness will be on The Day of Judgement for almost every one except the enemies of Allah, the Prophet and Ahlul Bayt. Enemies of Allah will be facing the results of their crimes in their graves and in the Day of Judgement as well, but sinners who are not enemies of Allah will not suffer twice. Grave for some believers is a place of purification so they suffer in the grave to go pure in The Day of Judgement.
We need to have more hope in Allah's Mercy and keep ourselves away from sins and seek forgiveness.