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Surah al-Inshiqaq (No. 84: The Splitting)

Verses 1-6

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

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

إِذَا السَّمَاءُ انْشَقَّتْ

When the sky is split open (84:1).

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

and gives ear to its Lord, as it should. (84:2).

وَإِذَا الْأَرْضُ مُدَّتْ

When the earth is spread out (84:3).

وَأَلْقَتْ مَا فِيهَا وَتَخَلَّتْ

and throws out what is in it, emptying itself, (84:4).

وَأَذِنَتْ لِرَبِّهَا وَحُقَّتْ

and gives ear to its Lord as it should. (84:5).

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنْسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ

0 man! You are labouring toward your Lord laboriously, and you will encounter Him. (84:6).

1. The Condition On The Day Of Judgment

This surah gives a detailed image of the condition of Allah's servants on the Day of Judgment, whether they are destined for bliss or punishment. This should give the human being occasion to deem insignificant many of the forms of enjoyment and happiness he finds in this world, when he compares them to everything that will come to him on the Day of Resurrection, as Allah says:

“Indeed, he used to be joyful among his folk, (al-Inshiqaq 84:13).

“indeed, he thought he would never return.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:14).

2. Fragileness Of The Heavens

The Qur'an repeatedly mentions events that lay bare the fragileness of the heavens on the Day of Resurrection; sometimes it calls this 'sundering' (infitar):

“When the sky is rent asunder...” (al-Infitaar, 82:1).

and other times 'splitting':

“When the sky is split open” (al-Inshiqaq 84:1).

and perhaps this is to show the profound changes being wrought in the realm of existence.

After all, the earth has been altered markedly by both natural and human agency, whereas the heavens, as if by its very nature - before the Hour sets in - appears unchanging; it is a manifestation of power and perpetuity, and that is why mentioning the changes in the heavens, is an even more eloquent expression of the breaking apart of the universe and its transformation!

3. The Heavens ‘Splitting Open’

Some commentators1 have explained the 'splitting open' of the heavens to mean their disintegration after having been joined. According to this interpretation, they were joined as a temporary measure in this world to ensure that the universe operated in a way that was conducive to human existence, but when the Resurrection sets in, this state of being joined is no longer considered necessary for the well-being of the universe.

According to this interpretation, this verse could also, be alluding to the condition of the heavens being joined together at the beginning of creation, and having been separated prior to that. And there are some cosmological theories that talk about the "big bang" from which the raw stuff of the universe emerged, which later turned into stars and planets.

4. Oaths In The Qur’an

Sometimes the Qur'an swears oaths by material phenomena that appear permanent in this world, such as:

“By the morning brightness,” (ad-Duha, 93:1).

“by the night when it is calm!” (ad-Duha, 93:2).

But at other times, it mentions material phenomena that lose this apparent permanence in the Hereafter, such as:

“when the sky is split open.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:1).

This is so, that the servant will reflect upon the outcome embodied in the object of the oath in the first instance, and the consequence of the conditional clause in the second.2

Both expressions invite one and the same conclusion; namely that we must move from the sensible (mahsus) to the intelligible (ma'qul), or from knowledge of our immediate circumstances to the knowledge of our ultimate fate. In short, we must know that every single being - whether it appears permanent or mutable - is, in fact, completely and utterly under Allah's control.

5. Obedience Of The Heavens And The Earth

Existence in its entirety submits to Allah as a slave submits to his master, and that is why the verse speaks about the sky as if it has ears like those of man;

“and gives ear to its Lord...” (al-Inshiqaq 84:2).

But the verse does not stop there, it says 'as it should' which shows that this obedience and submissiveness is not confined to this tremendous day alone; rather, it has been thus since the beginning of creation itself, such that the heavens and the earth spoke, whether verbally or otherwise, such words as befitted them:

so, He said to it and to the earth: Come both, willingly or unwillingly. They both said: We come willingly.” (Fussilat, 41:11).

But the submissiveness of the heavens and the earth on the Day of Resurrection is even more profound, because the Day of Resurrection is the station of destruction and sundering, and not fashioning and merging, as was the case at the beginning of Creation ... so, how shameful it is that the human being forsakes such obedient behaviour.

6. The Earth Spread Out

The spreading out of the earth on the Day of Resurrection could mean that its surface is expanded to accommodate every creature ever to have existed; or it could mean that it is leveled by removing its mountains and their peaks, which were placed upon the earth when it was spread out and created the first time, as Allah says:

“It is He who has spread out the earth and set in it firm mountains..’' (ar-Ra’d, 13:3).

And the earth is exactly like the heaven in all of this, completely obedient to its Lord, as is its nature to be.

And that is why Allah repeats the phrase:

“and gives ear to its Lord as it should.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:5).

to make us understand that existence in its entirety - the heavens and the earth - is undifferentiated in its submissiveness and obedience.

7. The Dead And Buried

The Qur'an frequently discusses the resurrection of the dead on the Day of Recompense, in such a way as to imply that the dead are within the earth as if entrusted to its depths, as Allah says elsewhere:

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

And in this surah:

“and throws out what is in it, emptying itself.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:4).

As though it must bring forth these trusts to be resurrected for accounting, so, let no one think that whoever is dead and buried in the ground is forgotten and is at an end when he is decayed to dust! No, rather the earth is obedient to its Lord and will bring them forth for Him at the hour of their resurrection, just as it received them at the hour of their burial. The verse uses hyperbole in describing it as 'emptying’ itself of whatever it contains to show that no part of these bodies, no matter how small or insignificant, will be left behind.

8. The Necessity Of Paying Attention

In Surah al-lnfitar, we saw a multitude of conditional clauses all leading to a single consequent:

“When the sky is rent asunder,” (al-Infitar, 82:1).

“when the stars are scattered”, (al-Infitar, 82:2).

“when the seas explode,” (al-Infitar, 82:3).

“when the graves are overturned,” (al-Infitar, 82:4).

“ then a soul shall know what it has sent ahead and left behind.” (al-Infitar, 82:5).

And we see something similar in this surah:

“When the sky is split open,” (al-Inshiqaq 84:1).

“and gives ear to its Lord, as it should.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:2).

“When the earth is spread out,” (al-Inshiqaq 84:3).

“and throws out what is in it, emptying itself,” (al-Inshiqaq 84:4).

“and gives ear to its Lord, as it should.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:5).

“O man! You are labouring toward your Lord laboriously, and you will encounter Him.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:6).

This illustrates the gravity of the ideas that these verses want to call our attention to. In the first collection this is represented by the necessity of paying attention to future outcomes, while in the second collection it is represented by the necessity of vigilantly observing our actions, and these are two things that most people are heedless of.

9. Attaining The Goal

This surah, like other Meccan surahs, reminds the human being of ends while he is focused on beginnings. This is the natural outcome of applying reason, for any rational person must - regardless of his religiosity - direct his efforts towards attaining his goal from the outset, and this is nothing other than facing the Real One on the Day of Resurrection, without guilt or rebuke. And this, in its entirety, is summed up in Allah's words:

“You are labouring toward your Lord laboriously, and you will encounter Him.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:6).

10. Oaths Without An Explicit Object

Oaths sworn without an explicit object, and conditional clauses not followed by an obvious consequence - as we sometimes see in the verses of the Qur'an - should give occasion for man to think about what has been left implicit, and this is a powerful motivation for them to ponder and reflect.

An instance of this principle is the verse under discussion; it does not mention an explicit consequence for its opening conditional clauses, even if it is connected to the words 'You are labouring toward your Lord ...' and this is to give it a more profound effect, namely to call to attention a meeting that is sure to happen and to which allude other verses such as:

“and that the terminus is toward your Lord” (an-Najm, 53:42).

and

“and to Allah is the return.” (Fatir, 35:18).

11. Labour

The inhabitants of this world labour and toil for most, if not all, of their lives for the sake of worldly provisions. So, is it not more fitting that a human being should labour in pursuit of the purpose for which he was created? Add to that the fact that anyone who labours for the Hereafter wil1 definitely see the fruits of his toil therein, as is demonstrated by Allah's words:

“ …… and you will encounter Him.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:6).

Compare this to the labours of this world and how people's best laid plans herein come to naught!

12. Moving Towards The Highest Source

The verses of the Qur'an highlight the importance of moving in this world towards the Highest Source. It refers to this variously as:

a. Fleeing -

“So, flee toward Allah!” (al-Dhariyat, 51:50).

b. Hastening –

“And hasten towards a forgiveness” (Ale 'lmran, 3:133).

c. Striving -

“And that nothing belongs to man except what he strives for.” (an-Najm, 53:39).

d. Labouring, which combines the meanings of travel and movement with that of effort and toil. e grasp this from the fact that the particle 'toward' (ila) is used to denote the utmost goal, as we see in Allah's words: '...towards your Lord.'

What is most interesting about this is that this verse addresses the human being directly as a human being. This is in marked contrast to those people who think that the Greatest Struggle (al-jihad al-akbar) is only the exclusive purview of the most devout of the faithful.

13. Toil

The expression '...towards your Lord' suggests - keeping in mind that this particle, 'towards' (ila) is used to signify the utmost goal of a journey - that the outcome of this labour shall be found in meeting Allah, after which there shall be no more toil. In fact, the outcome shall be the opposite of toil; felicity and ease of life. As you might say to a farmer: 'You are labouring towards the day of harvest.' From this, he would understand that there would be no more toil after the harvest.

Conversely, we also, see that the toil of worldly persons will not end with death; in fact, it will become harsher after they die. This is why we say that this world is the disbeliever's paradise and the believer' s prison.

14. Labouring Towards Allah

Labouring towards Allah must necessarily be in harmony with the divine plan for the Creation; it is towards Allah as the goal beyond all goals. Therefore, any labour that is not divine will not lead to him and, as a result, the outcome ('and you will encounter Him') will never materialize. And this is true, whether we interpret this encounter to mean encounter with Allah in the sense of encountering His recompense; encountering Him in the sense of a spiritual unveiling; encountering Him in the sense of encountering His presence and authority during the stages of the Resurrection; or encountering Him in the sense of encountering one's own deeds, as according to the verse:

“They will find present whatever they had done.” (al-Kahf, 18:49).

And what a gulf there is between labouring for the Hereafter, whereby the outcome is encounter with the One towards whom you laboured, and labouring for this world, whereby the outcome shall be failure and betrayal, and bearing the burdens of others, as Allah says:

“But surely they will carry their own burdens and other burdens along with their own burdens, and they will surely be questioned on the Day of Resurrection concerning that which they used to fabricate.” (al-'Ankabut, 29:13).

15. The Encounter

The encounter mentioned in this verse:

“....and you will encounter Him” (al-Inshiqaq, 84:6).

is inevitable for everyone who is mustered at the Resurrection. But the greatest excellence is that this compulsory meeting should be preceded by a voluntary one brought about by a person's own desire and choice. This is the utmost limit of moral refinement; an encounter that results from a person's labours which can only be realized in the life of this world. Such a voluntary encounter with the Divine is like water that flows through a channel to a tree in order to irrigate it.

Whereat we say: How beautiful this compulsory meeting is if it is preceded by a voluntary one. This explains the deep love Allah's awliya' have for death, because it only hastens this meeting, which they have been fervently awaiting. And we can find all of these ideas in description of the pious (muttaqin) by the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).3

16. The Horrors Of Resurrection

It is also, possible that all of the above sentences concern the terrors of the Resurrection and, with regards to grammar, they are collectively in the accusative case (mansub) as objects of an implicit command 'Remember. ..!' (udhkur!). This implication, in turn, places no small amount of emphasis on the gravity of what these verses are discussing, especially if we assume that the addressee is the Final Prophet (S), as he is at the very highest degree of remembrance.

Clearly, the one who recites the Qur'an must demonstrate a high level of awareness by enacting the divine command to remember (tadhakkur), otherwise what is the purpose of recitation divorced from reflection?

Verses 7-15

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ

Then as for him who is given his record in his right hand, (84:7).

فَسَوْفَ يُحَاسَبُ حِسَابًا يَسِيرًا

he shall soon receive an easy reckoning, (84:8).

وَيَنْقَلِبُ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

and he will return to his folks joyfully. (84:9).

وَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِهِ

But as for him who is given his record from behind his back, (84:10).

فَسَوْفَ يَدْعُو ثُبُورًا

he will pray for annihilation, (84:11).

وَيَصْلَىٰ سَعِيرًا

and he will enter the Blaze. (84:12).

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فِي أَهْلِهِ مَسْرُورًا

Indeed, he used to be joyful among his folk, (84:13).

إِنَّهُ ظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ يَحُورَ

and Indeed, he thought he would never return. (84:14).

بَلَىٰ إِنَّ رَبَّهُ كَانَ بِهِ بَصِيرًا

Yes indeed, his Lord sees him best. (84:15).

17. The Types Of People Resurrected

These verses show that there are two kinds of people who shall be resurrected; the believers, namely those who will receive their records in their right hands:

“who is given his record in his right hand” (al-Inshiqaq 84:7).

and the non-believers who denied the Resurrection, who will receive their records from behind their backs:

“But as for him who is given his record from behind his back” (al-Inshiqaq 84:10).

It is either because Allah has blotted out their faces and turned them backwards, as in the verse:

“...before We blot out the faces and turn them backwards.” (an-Nisa', 4:47).

or, it is because they take their records with their left hands and then hide them behind their backs.

It is also, possible to say that there is a third group of people, namely the sinful believers, who receive their records with their left hands, and so, stand in contrast with both the first and second groups here.

18. Easy Reckoning

The easy reckoning mentioned in the verse:

“he shall soon receive an easy reckoning” (al-Inshiqaq 84:8).

could mean:

a. That the record of deeds is presented to its owner, including any sins it contains, but without subjecting it to a precise inspection. Hence, from one angle, he has a reckoning, but from another it is also, easy.

b. But it could also, be easy because Allah overlooks his sins or turns them into good deeds, whether through the blessing of intercession (shafa'ah), or because of a deed of his that necessitates an easy reckoning. It has been mentioned in a prophetic tradition: 'There are three qualities that, if one possesses them, Allah will give him an easy reckoning and admit him unto Paradise by His mercy...' People asked: 'what are these things, O Messenger of Allah?' He said: 'Give to one who withholds from you, keep ties with one who cuts you off, and forgive one who wrongs you.'4

19. Returning To The Family

There is a huge difference between the return of the believer to his family on the Day of Resurrection and the return of others to theirs; the believer returns to his family to live with them forever in happiness and joy:

“and he will return to his folks joyfully” (al-Inshiqaq 84:9).

irrespective of whether we interpret this as referring to his wives amongst the heavenly maidens who await him, or to his wife and children who are attached to him in Paradise, or to his righteous comrades who are like his family because of their common faith.

All of this is juxtaposed with the happiness of the disbeliever, for it is a happiness that fades with this world and is followed by eternal misery, because he is separated from those amongst whom he was joyful when they abandon him to his own devices. So, what good did it do him that

“ .... he used to be joyful among his folk” (al-Inshiqaq 84:13).

and

“That is because you used to exult unduly on the earth.” (al-Ghafir, 40:75).

Notice that these verses are in the past tense, while his present reality - as indicated by the Qur'an's use of the present tense:

“he will enter the Blaze.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:12).

while crying laments and pleading for his own destruction:

“he will pray for annihilation.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:11).

20. Joy

The joy a believer experiences in this world is really and truly justified because the source of this joy is Allah's grace and mercy; his joy at his Lord's satisfaction is even greater than what the blessings he receives reveal thereof;

“Say, 'In Allah's grace and His mercy - let them rejoice in that! It is better than what they amass.” (Yunus, 10:58).

As if to say that the cause of their happiness is anything that displays Allah's satisfaction with them.

All of this stands in stark contrast with the happiness of worldly people, for it is more like blissful ignorance. That is why the Qur'an describes it as undue;

“That is because you used to exult unduly on the earth and because you used to walk exultantly.” (al-Ghafir, 40:75).

So, what use is falsehood, even if it makes you happy?

21. The Mark Of Sinners

If the division of people according to how they receive their records of deeds - in their right hands, left hands or behind their backs - applies to everyone who is resurrected, then this inevitably leads to a public humiliation of the sinners, which is something they would have done anything to avoid in this world. Add to this the fact that their faces are visibly transformed and darkened – so, as to reveal the terrible fate in store for them5 - and you have yet another form of public humiliation on the Resurrection, which in turn is a form of psychological punishment for the sinners before they enter Hellfire.

22. False Joy

One of the causes of false joy and exultation in this world is man’s disregard for the Hereafter and ignorance of the different types of recompense that await its inhabitants. This is why the first description the Qur'an gives them is that:

“ …... he thought he would never return.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:14).

In other words, he thought he would never go back to Allah. And it is narrated in one saying: 'Eid is not for those attired in new garments; Rather, Eid is for those saved from punishments!' (laysa al-'id li man labisa al-jadid, wa innama al-'id liman amina al-wa'id).

So, if something befalls a servant that gives him occasion for false joy, then he needs only remember first the terror which awaits him, and second Allah's watchfulness over him - as Allah says:

“Yes indeed, his Lord sees him best” (al-Inshiqaq 84:15).

to return to his senses. And two matters have been mentioned together in these verses in order to remove this blissful ignorance. First, that a person should remember that he will one day return to Allah and second, that Allah sees him, whatever he does.

Verses 16-25

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالشَّفَقِ

So, I swear not by the evening glow, (84:16).

وَاللَّيْلِ وَمَا وَسَقَ

by the night and what it gathers, (84:17).

وَالْقَمَرِ إِذَا اتَّسَقَ

by the moon when it blooms full : (84:18).

لَتَرْكَبُنَّ طَبَقًا عَنْ طَبَقٍ

you will surely fare from stage to stage. (84:19).

فَمَا لَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

So, what is the matter with them that they will not believe? (84:20).

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقُرْآنُ لَا يَسْجُدُونَ

And when the Qur'an is recited to them they will not prostrate? (84:21).

بَلِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا يُكَذِّبُونَ

Rather the non-believers deny, (84:22).

وَاللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا يُوعُونَ

and Allah knows best what they keep to themselves. (84:23).

فَبَشِّرْهُمْ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

So, warn them of a painful punishment, (84:24).

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ

except such as are believers and do righteous deeds: there will be an everlasting reward for them. (84:25).

23. Oaths

Swearing an oath by something, even if it is something inanimate, like the evening glow, the night or the moon, at its core is an oath sworn by the Lord of that thing, insofar as one sees it as signifying (ayatiyya) its Lord's exaltedness. So, there is no reason for us to cling to the notion that no oath can be sworn except an oath sworn by Allah; everything in existence is attributed to Him, so, by looking at it, we are - in truth - looking at its Originator, and that is why a believer should feel a genuine and intimate connection with nature, just as a lover feels an intimate connection with the gifts of his beloved.

24. Night

It is a feature of human nature that man does not pay detailed attention to the signs of Allah's power and mercy that surround him, and this is why many verses swear oaths by natural phenomena that are all around us and which we are used to, without paying the slightest attention to the wisdom behind them. Who amongst us gives notice to the night's blessing of gathering things that are scattered and uniting things that are separated; for every animate being returns to its abode and nests there, preparing itself for the new day, and we can glean this idea from Allah's words:

“by the night and what it gathers.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:17).

25. Full Moon

The verse does not swear by the moon itself, but only by its becoming full:

“by the moon when it blooms full:” (al-Inshiqaq 84:18).

that is when it is at its most luminous on the night of the full moon, as if it only becomes worthy of being sworn by when it reaches its highest state of excellence (kamal), which is when it is most luminous. Of course, everything has its own individual excellence.

On this basis, we say: The fullness of the moon being the proper time to swear an oath by it harks to the completion of Adam's (‘a) creation, which is when Allah commanded the angels to prost rate to him; Allah did not command them to prostrate until He had blown His spirit into him!

26. Change In States

The above verses were revealed to affirm the reality alluded to in the later verse:

“you will surely fare from stage to stage.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:19).

But the interpretations of this verse vary. Some say that it refers to the different stages of a man's life in this world. Some say that it refers to his states in this world, the Isthmus and the Resurrection, while others hold that it refers to his states in the various stages of the Resurrection.

We can reconcile all of these opinions by saying that these verses discuss the speed and magnitude of change in human existence in a way that shows there is a hidden power behind all those, that it is this hidden power, which alters the states of man and that he must take recourse to this power to change his state to the best possible! Moreover, these verses encourage man to bring himself - through all these changes - to the perfection for which He was created, and to be avaricious for this and not content with his present condition, for verily 'One for whom two days are the same has been cheated!'6

27. Difficulty To Ease

That a person's state can change from difficulty to ease, which is a corollary of the stratified nature of human existence that we can deduce from this verse, should give hope to man’s heart. The fact that these states are not fixed is in itself a kind of blessing; in fact, if we were to suppose that someone's whole life will be consumed only by difficulty then this gives occasion for a servant of God to despair. But so, long as a person anticipates the following stages of the Isthmus and the Resurrection, safe in the knowledge these will compensate him fully for every difficulty he endured in this world, he will find hope.

28. Prostration

Prostration (sujud) has a physical manifestation - placing seven parts of the body on the ground - and a spiritual manifestation, a demonstration of obedience. And perhaps the most appropriate interpretation of the verse

“and when the Qur'an is recited to them they will not prostrate” (al-Inshiqaq 84:21).

is the second manifestation, as the object of this verse is not for people to prostrate every time they hear a verse of the Qur'an; only a limited number of verses in the Qur'an require a prostration. So, what is meant here is obedience to its ideas and the commands and prohibitions it contains.

This is why we say that whoever prostrates with his body without submitting his heart has not attained the essence of prostration which he has been called on to demonstrate.

29. The Difference Between Believers And Unbelievers

There is an essential difference between the position of the believer towards Allah's signs and that of the non-believers and the hypocrites. As for the believers:

“When the signs of the All-beneficent were recited to them, they would fall down weeping in prostration.” (Maryam, 19:58).

while in the case of those opposed to them

“when the Qur'an is recited to them they will not prostrate” (al-Inshiqaq 84:21).

Also, for the believers:

“When His signs are recited to them, they increase their faith” (al-Anfal, 8:2).

while in the case of those opposed to them:

“But as for those in whose heart is a sickness, it only adds defilement to their defilement.” (at-Tawba, 9:125).

30. Denial

In many of its verses, the Qur'an affirms that the persistence of the non-believers in their disbelief - if only in some circumstances - is not because of any conviction in their own beliefs, or because of any failure to explain the revelation properly. Rather it is because they are obstinate, following the traditions of their forefathers or pursuing their own interests. That is why the Qur'an says:

“Rather the disbelievers deny” (al-Inshiqaq 84:22).

for denial (takdhib) is what someone resorts to when he is unable to argue and has no reasonable proof to support his claims.

And here, the tone of the verses shift from addressing them directly to speaking about them in the third person;

“So, what is the matter with them that they will not believe?” (al-Inshiqaq 84:20).

As if to turn aside from them because they are unworthy of being spoken to directly.

31. The Heart

In His scripture, Allah often alludes to the fact that He is aware of the contents of the hearts of His servants;

“We verily created man and We know what his soul whispereth to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein”. (Qaf, 50:16).

“.... for verily He knoweth what is secret and what is yet more hidden”. (Ta Ha, 20:7).

“He knoweth the traitor of the eyes, and that which the bosoms hide.” (al-Ghafir, 40:19).

and this verse in this surah mentions that:

“Allah knows best what they keep to themselves.” (al-Inshiqaq 84:23).

And all of this calls on the human being to pay attention to the depths of his soul and not only his limbs; for the heart is the vessel from which everything else flows, as the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) says in Nahj al-Balagha: 'These hearts are vessels; the best of them are the most conscious!’7

Of course, the best type of vessel - when it comes to the heart - is one that can hold the most, and one that holds good stuff inside.

32. Glad Tidings

Just as Allah gives "glad tidings" of punishment to the non-believers - and this carries no small amount of derision and rebuke, insofar as glad tidings are supposed to be happy news! - He also, gives glad tidings to the believers of a noble reward:

“he shall have a noble reward” (al-Hadid, 57:11).

and a magnificent reward:

“We shall give him a magnificent reward” (an-Nisa', 4:74).

and a great reward:

“For such there will be... a great reward” (Hud, 11:11).

and a reward which is everlasting and never ends.

“Lo! as for those who believe and do good works, for them is a reward enduring.” (Fussilat, 41:8).

Moreover, these verses have no trace of affront (minna), which means mentioning things that weigh upon the one receiving the reward. And these two features – impermanence or being accompanied with an affront - are very frequent when it comes to the rewards of people in this world.

33. Happiness

The Qur’an frequently invokes the duality of faith and righteous deeds with the definite article to signify that these are universal, meaning that they encompass all their instances in the highest possible form! This is because complete happiness obviously can only be attained by following all of Allah's commands and performing all the righteous deeds required by faith, to the extent that the Qur'an makes humility in prayer - which refers to supererogatory prayers, rather than obligatory ones, as one of the pillars of this happiness:

“those who are humble in their prayers” (al-Mu'minoon, 23:2).

Clearly, the level of this happiness is proportional to a person's level of faith and righteous deeds.

  • 1. Tafsir al-Tibyan, 10/307.
  • 2. Meaning the information that these oaths and conditional clauses introduce.
  • 3. See Nahj al-Balaghah, sermon on the Muttaqin.
  • 4. Majma’ al-Bayan 10/699.
  • 5. See Surah Ale 'lmran:
    “On the day when (some) faces shall turn white and (some) faces shall turn black; then as to those whose faces turn black: Did you disbelieve after your believing? Taste therefore the chastisement because you disbelieved.” (3:106).
  • 6. Ma’ani al-Akhbar, 342.
  • 7. Nahj al-Balaghah 495.