The basic teaching of this surah
is that the Day of Judgement about which man is being forewarned is destined
to come. No one has any prior knowledge about its arrival, which will be
as sudden as an unexpected rap at the door. One should always remain apprehensive
about it and be wise enough to be always in a position to anticipate its
arrival. On that day, people will emerge from their graves as scattered
moths appear in the rainy season; everyone will be too busy in contemplating
the fate which awaits him than to think about his family. No one will be
in a position to help anyone else. The tremendous convulsion will render
the mountains into tufts of carded wool let alone small fortifications
or entrenchments. On that day, man will only benefit from his good deeds.
God will set up the Balance of Justice in which all of man’s deeds will
be weighed. If the good deeds outweigh the evil ones, he will dwell in
eternal bliss and if the evil deeds tilt the scales, the scorching pit
of Hell will be his eternal abode.
Meaning of the Surah
The Pounding one!
What is the Pounding one!?
And what do you imagine what the Pounding
one is? (1-3)
On that day, people will be like scattered
moths and mountains like tufts of carded wool. (4-5)
Then whose scales are heavy shall
dwell in bliss and whose scales are light, the abyss shall be their abode.
And what do you imagine what that is!? Raging Fire!! (6-11)
Explanation of the Surah
(The Pounding one!) (1)
Among other names, this is one of
the names of the Day of Judgement. It means ‘the pounding one’ or the ‘the
rapping one’. The Arabic phrase qar`a al-bab,
means ‘he pounded or rapped at the door’. This name indicates a special
feature of the Day of Judgement: it will come as abruptly and as suddenly
as an unexpected bang at the front door of a house at night which strikes
panic among the dwellers inside. Like a bolt from the blue it will alight
and catch everyone unaware. It will create a tremendous cataclysm in this
universe and everything will beannihilated. Hidden in this name also is
a warning that since no one has any foreknowledge about the time of its
arrival and since it will be the biggest upheaval in the universe, it is
in the well being of everyone to always remain fearful of it. The particular
style adopted here has a ring of an alarm about it in order to caution
everyone to be on their vigil and anticipate the arrival of this disaster.
It can be said that the immense turbulence which will be created at the
advent of that Day is somewhat being created before its arrival by the
very clamour of its name.
(What is the Pounding one!?)
This question serves to magnify the
severity of the alarm, warning those who regard the Day of Judgement as
an ordinary affair and have become indifferent to its implications. It
cautions and urges them to seriously think about something which is bound
to happen and to prepare themselves to negotiate its aftermath.
(What do you imagine what the pounding
one is!?) (3)
This special Qur’anic style, often used elsewhere, is meant to lament and deplore the foolishness
of the addressees about such a significant event. It is in the form of
an inquiry about their estimation of the severity of a calamity which will
suddenly waylay them. It urges them to reflect on the dreadful fate of
those who are ridiculing it, even after being warned about it time and
(On that Day, people will be like
scattered moths.) (4)
This is a graphic description of the
situation which will arise on that day, when people will emerge from their
graves like scattered moths. Everyone will stand alone to reckon with the
results of his deeds. No one will have his family or clan about him nor
any of his tribesmen or comrades to defend him. Even other deities he associated
with God and other intercessors on whom he was depending upon will not
be present to lessen his burdens. The Qur’an explicitly says:
On that day, men will emerge from their graves alone
so that their deeds can be shown to them. (99:6)
So when the trumpet is sounded, the blood relations between
them will be no more on that day, nor will they be able to ask for each
other’s help. And only those whose scales of good deeds are heavy shall
attain salvation and whose scales are light shall be the ones who have
incurred a loss and shall forever abide in Hell. (23:101-103)
On that day no friend will inquire about his friend though
they will be shown to each other. The sinner will wish to give away his
children, his wife, his brother and his kinsfolk who gave him shelter,
and all the people of the earth, as ransom if this could deliver him. (70:10-14)
(And the mountains will be like tufts
of carded wool.) (5)
This verse means that on that day
like tribal and family support and backing, the refuge and shelter provided
by buildings, forts, citadels and other similar structures will be no more.
Mountains will be rendered into tufts of carded wool. This simile vividly
portrays the fact that just as in the case of carded wool each fibre is
completely set asunder, so shall be each particle of a mountain. The Arabic
word `ihn is used for that wool which after having being carded and given
colour has become ready for weaving.
Mountains are specially mentioned
here because at that time those who were denying the Day of Reckoning regarded
them as eternally indestructable. They used to mockingly ask the Prophet
(sws) whether such huge structures would be destroyed on that day. This
question has been quoted elsewhere in the Qur’an and has been answered
here in this verse.
(Then whose scales are heavy shall
dwell in bliss.) (6-7)
The only things considered worthwhile
on that day will be a man’s good deeds. Only those whose good deeds out
number their evil ones will attain salvation and all others will be doomed
forever. A special Balance of Justice meant only to weigh the deeds of
men, will be erected on that day, as mentioned in the Qur’an:
And for the Day of Judgement, We will set up a special
Balance of Justice (21:47)
A special characteristic of this Balance
as mentioned in Surah `Araf is that only truth (good deeds) will be able to tilt it. Evil (bad
deeds) will have no weight in its scales:
On that day, the truth only will have weight. So, those
whose scales are heavy shall attain salvation, and those whose scales are
light shall be the ones who have incurred a loss because they wronged their
souls by denying Our revelations. (7:8-9)
The relative singular pronoun (man)
as used in the verse above denotes plurality.
By saying that such people shall dwell
in bliss is meant that not only will they be granted whatever they wish
for but also what they cannot even imagine.
(And those whose scales are light,
the abyss shall be their abode. And what do you imagine what that is!?
Raging Fire!!).... (8-11)
This is a description of the fate
of those whose evil deeds have no weight in the Balance of Justice. Whatever
good deeds they may have brought with them will be rendered useless due
to their ill-intentions and heretical beliefs. The scorching pit of Hell
will be their eternal abode.
The Arabic word umm means ‘mother’
but here it very aptly denotes a resort or a dwelling.
The hay at the end of the word
(mahiyah) is to maintain the
rhyme of the verses by taking into consideration the conventional pause
at the end of a verse.
(Translated from "Tadabbur-i-Qur’an"
by Shehzad Saleem)