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Surah al-‘Adiyat (No. 100: 'The Chargers')

Verses 1-11

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful.

وَالْعَادِيَاتِ ضَبْحًا

By the snorting chargers, (100:1).

فَالْمُورِيَاتِ قَدْحًا

by the strikers of sparks, (100:2).

فَالْمُغِيرَاتِ صُبْحًا

by the raiders at dawn, (100:3).

فَأَثَرْنَ بِهِ نَقْعًا

raising therein a trail of dust, (100:4).

فَوَسَطْنَ بِهِ جَمْعًا

and cleaving therein a host! (100:5).

إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لِرَبِّهِ لَكَنُودٌ

Indeed, man is ungrateful to his Lord, (100:6).

وَإِنَّهُ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكَ لَشَهِيدٌ

and Indeed, he is witness to that! (100:7).

وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ

He is Indeed, avid in the love of wealth. (100:8).

أَفَلَا يَعْلَمُ إِذَا بُعْثِرَ مَا فِي الْقُبُورِ

Does he not know, when what is in the graves is turned over (100:9).

وَحُصِّلَ مَا فِي الصُّدُورِ

and what is in the breasts is divulged, (100:10).

إِنَّ رَبَّهُمْ بِهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَخَبِيرٌ

Indeed, their Lord will be best aware of them on that day? (100:11).

1. Oaths

The oaths in this surah revolve around the states and movements of a band of fighters in the way of Allah's, specifically their charging horses; their sounds as they approach the enemy, the sparks that their hooves strike, their surprise attack against their enemies at dawn, the dust they kick up as they gallop, and how they plunge into the midst of their foes as they attack.

Now if the horses of those who fight in the way of Allah are worthy of such oaths, then what about he fighters themselves? Is there any implication more powerful than this, that is to swear by the mounts of those who you desire to exalt?

2. Greatness Being Transferred From A Great Person

In the Qur'an, we find many instances of greatness being transferred from a great person to some of those things connected to him, which would lack greatness in of their own selves without this connection, for example:

a. The shirt of Joseph (‘a):

“When the bearer of good news arrived, he cast it on his face, and he regained his sight.” (Yusuf, 12:96).

b. The ark of Moses (‘a): 'Their prophet said to them,

“Indeed, the sign of his kingship shall be that the Ark will come to you, bearing tranquility from your Lord” (al-Baqarah, 2:248).

c. The she-camel of Salih (‘a):

“But then the Messenger of Allah said to them, 'Let Allah's she-camel drink!” (ash-Shams, 91:13).

And of this we can find a further instance in the present verse; the horses of the fighters are so, exalted that Allah swears oaths by the hooves of these mounts, which strike sparks as they charge:

“by the strikers of sparks.” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:2).

3. Defeating The Enemy

Praising a dawn raid by invoking it in the context of an oath demonstrates that it is desirable to launch surprise attacks on the enemy, for war is guile. And one form of surprise attack is the dawn raid, for it is neither in the gloom of the night, such that a person cannot see his enemy, nor in the brightness of the morning, such that the enemy is prepared.

But this principle is not confined to the above instance of taking measures to overwhelm the enemy; every effort must be made to obtain the means of defeating the enemy, including amassing force:

“Prepare against them whatever you can of power and war-horses.” (al-Anfal, 8:60).

It should be obvious that the present verse is not restricted to horses specifically, but means any kind of power that allows you to confront the enemy, even if it is not horses. It is also, clear, hopefully, that the verse we have just quoted about military preparations does not only refer to warhorses!

4. Pilgrims

Some are of the opinion that the meaning of these oaths are the camels of the pilgrims moving between ‘Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifa, which has been narrated from the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).1 According to this interpretation, the verses expound the greatness of the pilgrims from one angle, and the greatness of this spot of ground from another. In this case, the oath is about a mount carrying a noble rider in a noble spot... from this and other similar instances, we can see that the Qur'an is multifaceted in its meanings.

5. Being Ungrateful

The connection between this oath and its object:

“Indeed, man is ungrateful to his Lord” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:6).

is somewhat subtle. It could be said that the relationship between Man's ingratitude and the horses of the fighters is:

a. The contrast between a group who offers the most valuable thing in their possession - their lives - in the service of the religion, and between those who prefer the wealth Allah has entrusted them with over returning to Him, while being ungrateful towards Him and heedless of His blessings. And so, the honouring of the mounts of these fighters is a hint to them that Allah considers them beneath these horses in merit!

b. The ordinance of jihad was given to confront these ungrateful and recalcitrant persons, so, the above verses are intended to belittle them, in that they will be abased by those who are granted victory over them on account of their own iniquity and misguidance.

6. Ingratitude

There is a collection of traits gathering in the human soul mentioned by the Qur'an, such as:

a. Injustice and foolishness:

“...Indeed, he is most unfair and senseless” (al-Ahzab, 33:72).

b. Greed:

“Indeed, man has been created covetous” (al-Ma'arij, 70:19).

c. Anxiety:

“...Anxious when an ill befalls him” (al-Ma'arij, 70:20).

d. Despair and ingratitude:

“He becomes despondent, ungrateful.” (Hud, 11:9).

e. Rebelliousness:

“Indeed, man becomes rebellious ...” (al-'Alaq, 96:6).

f. Weakness:

'...man was created weak.” (an-Nisa’, 4:28).

And this surah mentions another one of these inner traits - making its subject the human being as a human being - which does not apply to the Prophets (‘a). This trait is ingratitude (kufran), which is preceded in the Arabic by the particle of emphasis, 'indeed' (inna), as well as the lam of emphasis (al-lam al-mu'akkada).

It is obvious that such traits can be found in people's hearts as surely as seeds can be found in the earth waiting for the right conditions to sprout. So, without struggling with oneself, probing the depths of the human soul and cleansing it of whatever it contains, it is only natural that these traits will remain seeds for evil deeds.

7. Awareness Of Our Own Evil

Something that will mean a person is punished severely on the Day of Resurrection is the fact that he is already aware of the evil in himself, as described in the verse

“and Indeed, he is a witness to that!” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:7).

Assuming, of course, that 'he' refers to the person and not Allah. It is as if to say that this ingratitude is actually man's willful refusal to acknowledge his own flaws, which run parallel to his carnal self. And that is because going against the nature of these traits - like miserliness, for instance - requires effort, which they are not willing to expend, and hence they are truly left without any excuse! Another verse, which like this one, expounds the fact that man is well aware of his own self reads:

“Rather man is a witness to himself,” (al-Qiyamah, 75:14).

“though he should offer his excuses.” (al-Qiyamah, 75:15).

8. Oath

This surah contains realities which touch upon the inner realm, such as the man’s ingratitude, his avid love of wealth, and the fact that he is aware of what is within his own soul, even if he is too proud to admit to it; so, does this surah touch upon the unseen realm from another angle; namely that Allah will reveal He is best-aware of His servants on the Day of Resurrection.

Hence it is only appropriate for there to be a clear oath in order that people accept these realities which the senses cannot apprehend, and an affirmation in all of these points, using the particle 'indeed' (inna) and a nominal sentence in conjunction with the lam of emphasis.

9. Wealth

The verse uses the word khayr (lit. 'good') to refer to wealth, as is the case elsewhere in the Qur'an. For example:

“...he leaves behind any wealth ...” (al-Baqarah, 2:180).

and

“...and niggardly when wealth comes his way.” (al-Ma'arij, 70:21).

It is possible that this word is used because:

a. Of their own claims that such wealth is good for them, as all the enjoyment of this world can only be obtained with this wealth.

b. Of reality itself, namely that wealth in itself, and in fact that this world in its entirety, is faultless. In fact it is the very stuff of goodness; evil only comes out of loving it:

“...and you love wealth with much fondness” (al-Fajr, 89:20).

which distracts one from Allah, whereat it becomes a tribulation

“Know that your possessions and children are only a test...” (al-Anfal, 8:28).

and an enemy

'O you who believe! Indeed, among your spouses and children you have enemies; so, beware of them.” (at-Taghaabun, 64:14).

And if we want proof that there is nothing innate in wealth that distracts people from Allah, we need only look to His prophet, Solomon (‘a), who was given great wealth, without it sapping his determination to serve Allah in the slightest; and the promised Mahdi (‘a) will also, have unimaginable wealth when he brings forth from the earth its treasures, and from the heavens their rains.

10. The Earth Brings Forth Our Bodies

This discussion of man’s physical bodies – in this surah - in the realm of the graves is similar to the discussion of inanimate things therein; in the verse

“and the earth discharges her burdens” (az-Zalzalah, 99:2).

we sense that the bodies of human beings are in the same condition as everything else buried in the ground; the earth brings them forth and it is as though she is relieved to be rid of them. In this surah we find the expression 'turned over' which refers to the earth being disturbed to bring out whatever is within it, just as a ploughman labours to bring out what grows in the soil.

Therefore, we can say that these bodies have no significance in themselves, rather their value depends upon the souls to which they belong; they are like a grain of wheat which is desired in itself; and once the wheat has been harvested from the field, the chaff is cast aside to be carried away by the winds or consumed by fire.

11. “What Is In The Breast Is Divulged”

In the verse

“and what is in the breasts is divulged,” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:10).

Allah singles out 'breasts' (sudur) rather than the other limbs, because the latter's relation to the breast is like that of an effect to its cause, and therefore the breast is more worthy of mention. So, on the Day of Judgment the real source of a person's salvation, and the axis around which his accounting will revolve, is a sound heart, as Allah says:

“...except him who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (ash-Shu'ara, 26:89).

So, someone who adorns his limbs with acts of obedience but does not reform his soul with righteous traits will see that the contents of his breast are not something he will be pleased with on the Day of Resurrection!

A verse which supports the centrality of the soul to our deeds is

“...anyone who conceals it, his heart will Indeed, be sinful” (al-Baqarah, 2:283).

because it describes the heart as the locus of sin; there is also, the verse

“...lest he in whose heart is a sickness should aspire...” (al-Ahzab, 33:32).

which makes the sickness of the heart a cause for a person's desires to be aroused when he interacts with women; and the verse

'It is not their flesh or their blood that reaches Allah. Rather it is your Godwariness that reaches Him.” (al-Hajj, 22:37).

For what is the value of their blood being spilled in Mina if this does not spring from Godwariness? Next is the verse

“And whoever venerates the sacraments of Allah - Indeed, that arises from the Godwariness of hearts” (al-Hajj, 22:32).

for it is from a godwary heart that outward piety emanates, and this includes venerating Allah's sacraments in all their forms. Finally comes the verse

“O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so, that you may be Godwary.” (al-Baqarah, 2:183).

This verse makes the anticipated outcome of fasting that a person should become godwary, and it is well known that godwariness (taqwa) is a condition of the heart.

12. Divine Knowledge

Allah is fully aware of all our actions as they emanate from us; in fact, He is fully aware of them even before that, because of His knowledge of the unseen, and our awareness of this divine knowledge should cause us to ensure that whatever we do is done to the best of our ability. However, when we read the verse

“Indeed, their Lord will be best aware of them on that day” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:11).

it appears to restrict this divine knowledge to the context of the Day of Resurrection, while His knowledge is timeless; so, how can we reconcile this verse to reality?

The answer to this question - after affirming that this verse does not preclude His knowledge at other times - is that the Resurrection is not the time of this knowledge itself, but rather the time at which the effect of this knowledge appears in the form of recompense. Obviously, the connection between this knowledge in the abode of this world and the effect it will have in the abode of the Hereafter serves as a deterrence against sinning if someone finds that their faith in the Hereafter is deeply rooted! Similar to this is the verse

“To whom does the sovereignty belong today?(al-Ghafir, 40:16).

We know that His sovereignty is actually eternal and without end, so, what connects it to that day in particular? Again, the meaning of this is that His sovereignty will be fully realized and affirmed by all of His subjects. We should also, note that the object of the divine knowledge are people's souls themselves

“their Lord will be best aware of them on that day” (al-‘Adiyat, 100:11).

and not merely their deeds; this is a more eloquent way of expressing Allah's immanence, because someone who encompasses a person's soul necessarily encompasses their deeds as well, but the opposite is not so.

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