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Commentary on Surat Al-Infitar

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A COMMENTARY ON THE LAST SECTION QUR`AN 
Chapter 82: Surat Al-Infitar
The Cleaving Asunder

By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

In the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful

This surah has a theme and pattern similar to Surat at-Takwir, yet it is very different. It reminds us that there will be an end of creational manifestation and describes how this will take place in a way that we intellectually understand. Our intellect accepts the fact that everything created has come from dense matter that expands and is diluted and then regenerates within itself. We also know intellectually that whatever begins will come to an end and that there is nothing manifest in any form or manner that will not come to an end. This end will come with the unfolding of time, and until this occurs the object of our search must be absolute knowledge which does not change with time, knowledge which is forever true and correct.

This surah, in a pattern similar to Surat at-Takwir, begins with a view of the cosmos and the heavens, and then comes to an earthly level, the graves, which are the final end of conscious reality. Even the reality which we thought of as final will be dissolved.

  1. When the heaven is cleft asunder,

Infatarat comes from the verb meaning "to crack, to be rent or cleft asunder." Fitrah, from the same original root, means "innate nature, instinct." The word fitrah inherently recalls the idea of "origin," and, as we see from its related word forms, implies that the origin of anything springs from a crack. The Qur`an says that the earth was egg-shaped, and when water came, it cracked in order to facilitate growth from within itself. Visibly and symbolically, everything comes from the initial single source bursting into the manifold stream of creation.

The heavens are held together by all the different forces which maintain the stars and planets in organized orbits. If that system were to crack, this order would be undone. The inference here is that when the system of existence in this realm -- both for us and for other beings, such as the jinn (spirits) -- reaches a point beyond which it can no longer expand, it will begin to collapse. Every system in existence has a limitation except for the essence, which is Allah. That Essence encompasses all systems; it is Boundless and for this reason meaningful boundaries exist. Every limitation comes from the Limitless, and since it comes from the Limitless, it must be limited. Time can be understood only because there is timelessness, the meaning of which is already contained within man. This ayah, then, speaks of the end of time and the beginning of the next experience.

  1. And when the stars are scattered --

This is what happens as a result of the first ayah. Intatharat means "haphazardly scattered." Kawākib are "planets." As far as we are concerned, when the heavens crack, the planets closest to us will be scattered. The forces that formerly held them in orbit will themselves be destroyed. A new system must be found after this collapse, because the old system of continuity in creation will have come to an end.

Kawkaba, the verbal root of kawākib, means "to shine brilliantly," and especially is used to describe the shininess of iron. If a day is described as kawkabī, the day is one of particular significance or difficulty. In this case, the word refers to those elements in the cosmos which are outstanding, as far as we are concerned, because they are connected with the solar system, and they shine for us with a brilliance greater than that of the other celestial bodies.

The root of the word intatharat is intathara, which means "to be scattered or strewn about, be dispersed," indicating that this scattering is haphazard but also part of a pattern. It is a random action, yet it is not a meaningless, abstract randomness. The word intatharat evokes the image of scattering seeds on the ground. From the point of view of the scatterer, the actor, this follows a certain pattern, a pattern dictated by factors such as the size of his hand and his normal movement and rhythm, even though from the point of view of the seed or that of the observer, it appears to be haphazard. The act of sowing itself is a scattering, yet it is a scattering according to a certain decree.

Nathr is the opposite of shi'r. Nathr is "prose," and the expression rajulun natharun refers to a man who is talkative, always scattering his words around. Shi'r, on the other hand, means "poetry." By the act of intensifying and making words compact and concise, poetry is created, whereas by scattering the words loosely on the page, prose is produced.

  1. And when the seas are made to surge forth explosively --

When the forces or systems that keep the cosmos intact stop, there will be an explosive result. Fujjirat is from fajjara, which means "to cause to flow, to split, explode." The existing system will go beyond its original boundary and decay rapidly.

A word that is similar in meaning to fajjara is shaqqa, "to split, cleave; to grieve, trouble, harass." Mashaqqah means "difficulty, hardship, trouble." This difficulty arises because of the cracking apart when what we really want is for things to stay together, in tawhīd. Shaqq, "a crack, or break," implies difficulty. Outwardly, a split or fissure appears to be against tawhīd, but in reality it can only exist within tawhīd. How could we know that it is cracked if everything were not already connected? Everything is together because there is only oneness, and this shows itself clearly when something splits apart and we are distressed. We do not even like it outwardly, because we are lovers of the One and Only Hand that holds and binds everything together.

The verb fajara is a rich source of words, the meanings of which are all logically related, and therefore is worth some further attention. Fajr, meaning "dawn," is related to fajara. The night, that all-enveloping darkness, is broken by the first beams of morning light, hence the word "daybreak."

Infijār is an "explosion, eruption, or detonation," indicating that the object to be detonated began as a solid, but by the act of infijār has been rendered momentarily mobile.

In the Qur`an fujūr (wickedness, immorality, profligacy) normally implies transgression, acting out of line, beyond the limits of the path. Transgressing the bounds is bursting beyond them. If fujūr is used to describe a person, it means he or she has committed the worst of all human crimes, which is zinā` (adultery, fornication). When a people is said to be fājir it means that they are degenerate and shamelessly debauched.

One of the most important meanings of fajjara in the Qur`an is to be found in the following ayah: "A spring from which the slaves of Allah drink, making it gush forth abundantly" (76:6). From the point of view of haqīqah ("the truth"), the implication here is that the spring is within oneself. That spring, that point of fitrah (original nature) is within the heart of man, but it has to be detonated, made to gush forth, and in order to do that, one must be able to reach it. In order to detonate open the safe in a bank, one must go through all the corridors. The same thing is true for the heart -- in order to get to it, we must go through all those corridors which have become horror chambers that we have invented and constructed in our passage through this life.

Hasan al-Basri, may Allah be pleased with him, who received his teaching from Sayyidna 'Ali, 'alayhi-s-salām, said that the meaning of this ayah refers to the "water drying up" because it is a reversal of the norm. At that time everything will be extraordinary and abnormal; the planets which were holding us in orbit, with which we were connected and which were most influential upon our lives, will be scattered. Similarly, the seas will be empty. From the point of view of the Creator there will be no reversal, but will only seem to occur from our point of view. We will perceive everything to be turning upside-down because we are subject to it. From the point of view of Reality, however, it will be according to a perfect plan, according to the perfect laws which govern this existence.

  1. And when the graves are laid open.

Now the collapse of the world comes even closer. The final resting place is the grave, which is therefore a place of peace. Ba'thara, the root of bu'thirat, means "to scatter around, turn upside down, throw into disorder." What we have here is a description of another result of the breakdown in the gravitational and centrifugal forces, among others, holding the world together. The ground of the cemeteries will heave up and the graves will split open completely. What ever every self has been hiding and keeping secret will be exposed in this opening.

  1. Every self will know what it has sent ahead and held back.

Nafs here means "soul," or "self." The root of the word is connected to tanaffasa, which is the verb, "to breathe." Nafs is that complex entity which encompasses the pure cause of its existence, the h, meaning "spirit, soul." (The word h in Arabic is related to "wind," alluding to its free-flowing quality.) The nafs also encompasses all the acquired features that are grafted onto the h; as a result of its manifestation. The words nafs and h are sometimes interchangeable. Their relationship is like that of the sun to the earth: the self is rendered sentient by the spirit.

When all the outer props have collapsed, as on the Yawn al-Qiyāmah (the Day of Resurrection), every self will experience its reality, which is a state of pure beingness, according to what its deeds were and what it had nurtured before the outer, gross world collapsed.

Qaddamat (rendered here as "(it) sent ahead,") is derived from the same root as qadam, which means "foot," that is, what we put in front of us in order to move ahead toward something new. Why do we wish to transport or move ourselves?

Why do we wish to present ourselves with something new? When we do so, what we perform is an act of worship and adoration. Let us take the example of eating. We eat because we want to live, because we love life and perpetuity. This shows we are striving for the attributes of Allah, the Everlasting. If one's intention is clear, then one's actions will be coherent. If we know that we put a foot forward in order to worship Allah, then it is perfectly all right to say, "I want to eat," or "I want to become wealthy." In order to uphold and propagate the laws of Allah, we must understand our priorities. If we want to undertake an action, we must ask ourselves why. What is put forth is as good as its intentions. If we eat in order to live, serve, and gain knowledge, all the energies around us will come to help us in that regard.

This ayah says that when all the aforementioned events occur, man's intention will become clear to him even though previously he may have barely given a thought as to why he did things. Thus, it is said that it is better not to lift a finger until one's intention is made clear, because actions are only as good as intentions, and one's very life is put to the test. If one starts with what is real, one will make progress. Serving one's family, for example, is a commendable action. Through acting on good intentions, one reaches a point where he thirsts for knowledge, and this brings him to the point of dhikr (remembrance), which in turn leads to inner silence. If one acts in sincerity, that point will be reached regardless, for as it says in the Qur`an, "Certainly He is the Forgiving, the Merciful!"

One usually turns to the Qur`an in desperation, for it is the final medicine. The extent to which the Qur`an is clearly revealed to man is directly proportional to the extent to which he is honest in abandoning himself to it. The Prophet, salla-llāhu 'alayhi wa ālihi wa sallam, always recommended reading the Qur`an with a tearful eye and reciting it as though it were the voice of eternity.

Akhkhara means "to delay, postpone, hinder, put back," indirectly referring to what has been hidden. We are the result of what we have left behind us, our past. As individuals, as human beings, we are the sum of our past actions, thoughts, hidden, postponed, or revealed. What potentially exists in the future are our intentions and what will in fact come about will be the enactment of our intentions. These two elements interact with each other as well as with the outer environment, and the result of these interactions is the future. If man knows what is behind him and what is in front of him, then he has covered the whole horizon and connected with it.

The ayah means that on that day every nafs (self) will completely reveal itself, its true color, tone, and tune. The rūh (soul) starts as pure power, and its substance is made of an element with which every other soul can connect. Therefore every soul will see the other clearly, unlike now, when we can hide the parts of ourselves which we do not want others to see. Therefore, the more exposed we are here and now and the more ready we are to live here and now, the more prepared we are for what is to come later. We must concern ourselves with how to live now, fully and totally. If a person genuinely wants to apply this, he will reach the conclusion that the way to do it is by clarifying every intention and coupling it to its correct action and by being completely open, exposed, and ready to be questioned.

  1. O man! What has deceived you from your Generous Lord?

After giving the news that all of this complex and fantastic world will come to an end and that all that will be left of each one of us is the self, this surah then addresses itself directly to man. Insān (man) is by nature sociable, friendly, companionable. The deeper meaning of this ayāh is "O you who are already a worshipper of unification, by whatever name you may call it, what made you so arrogant as to imagine that you are separate from your Ever-Generous Sustainer and Lord?" When the outer shell of the world comes to an end, what excuse does man have for having elevated himself apart from the One Reality? Man's essence is generosity and blessing, so what has made him so conceited?

The appeal here is to the real nature of man, which is what will survive once all the worldly trappings have fallen away. What made him not recognize the rubūbīah (Lordship)? It is love of dunyā (this "world"), of being in a state of confusion. The correct answer essentially, however, is that there is no excuse. When the confrontation with the Lord occurred, why did man not do what he was born to do, which was to seek the truth? There is no valid answer.

All that is other than Allah is false. One cannot be deceived by "nothing," by an abstraction. Whatever attracts man away from the line of truth is the dunyā, which is transient, quickly passing away and causing us to be in ghaflah (forgetfulness, heedlessness). We become glued to this world through our self-imposed illusions, although we are actually seeking security. The Ever-Secure is already within the heart, and its influence transposes itself into this outer situation in which we adhere to things that are transient. Once there is no longer that element which caused us this attachment, then we are free of forgetfulness and can recognize our Lord.

The greatest glue of attachment is the appearance of "I," the ego. When creation occurred, the shaytāni (satanic) element said, "I am better than he" (7:12), and thus began the rise of attachment to something that did not originally exist. When this apparent world comes to an end, that which appeared to be propping it up will no longer be there. Shaytān will no longer be there either, since that energy that causes separation will no longer be there.

  1. Who created you, then made you complete, then proportioned you --

Had man not been created, he would not have had a chance to reach knowledge, nor to have the bliss and satisfaction of inner existence, nor to see hundreds of flowers all exemplifying the same thing and yet different in color and smell.

Sawwa has many meanings, including "to even, level, straighten, regulate, put in order, equalize." Why, then, is man in this arrogant state if he sees how potentially harmonious and complete he has been made?

'Adl means "straight," and therefore most efficient (the quickest way to connect two points is, after all, a straight line). It also means "justice, fairness and uprightness." Everything is created in an amazingly balanced, just, and ecological way, both in the outer and the inner realms, which are, in fact, one and therefore balanced. Balance is mīzān, which is also the name of the Qur`an. Therefore, we see that everything is in the Qur`an and is the Qur`an, because the reality that is read in it is the one that is exuded by creation. We understand our Creator through wondering at and seeing His creation. If we do not see His Hand at work through us, how can we rightfully talk about other, outer aspects of creation?

  1. Into whatever form He pleased He constructed you.

Sūrah is a "picture, form, shape, likeness, or copy." It comes from the verb "to form, create, illustrate, photograph." Rakkaba is "to fasten, build, to put together." Its root is rakiba, which means "to ride." Looking at creation in its totality, we see that anything can and indeed does take place. It is beyond our intellectual comprehension to understand why a particular cell or being moves in a particular way, and so instead we call it an abstract or haphazard movement. There is nothing haphazard about it; it is only that we cannot understand it. In fact, it is the pattern of our intellectual pursuit that can be either along a path of understanding or along a path of confusion. From the point of view of haqīqah everything makes perfect sense and nothing is out of place, but if we transgress the norms of 'aql (intellect) and thought, we enter a realm of confusion.

  1. Nay! You deny the Judgment Day.

Kallā (nay) is meant to reassure us here. Put in other words, kallā means, "It is certainly the case." Denial, for man, is quite natural: "Surely man is in loss" (103:2). It is quite understandable that we transgress and forget and are not in dhikr (remembrance). This is why Allah is The Forgiving, the Most Merciful and why we turn to Allah in repentance. This is normal. We deny ourselves correct transaction, correct behavior, which is the only way of living, of being prepared, of being in a state of abandonment in which we can appreciate and witness abundance.

This ayah addresses us on a deep inner level. The dīn, in other contexts, is usually translated as "religion." The word, however, implies a transaction, that of paying a debt to one's Creator. The root of dīn is dāna, which is "to be indebted, to owe, to be subject, to yield, and to profess the true faith." It is in man's human nature to deny islām. Like the salmon struggling upstream, only very few reach their source. This was true for the people of Mecca for whom this ayah was specifically revealed, and it is applicable to all people at all times. Man's true nature seeks his source. His lower nature denies the contract of mercy which can only be known by the payment of the debt -- by the living of the dīn -- for which he finds himself indebted. Then the pathway to all-encompassing Mercy is made smooth, ta'abbada (to be paved, made level, smooth), through the song of 'ibādah (worship, service).

  1. And most surely there are guardians over you,

How is al-Hāfiz (the Guardian) manifested? The name is an attribute of Allah, the Keeper, the Protector, the Guardian. It derives from a verbal root which means, "to preserve, protect, guard, sustain, remember." Hāfiz, in ordinary Arabic, means 'someone who knows the Qur`an by heart'. The Creator would not have created the laws of existence unless He were going to maintain them. Thus, we are assured that the laws do not and will not change for any person, be he a prophet, messenger, or ordinary man. The laws of creation apply equally to all. Many of these laws we take for granted because we are subject to them at all times, such as the law of gravity.

To illustrate this point, let us recall a story concerning Imam as-Sadiq, 'alayhi-s-salām. He went to his house one day and found a slave-woman with one of his children on the roof, although he had forbidden the members of the household from going there. The woman, in her extreme agitation at being caught in her transgression, stopped paying attention to the child. At that moment, the child fell from the roof to its death. Imam as-Sadiq immediately said to the slave-woman, "You are free!" He came out of the house completely shattered, and when the people asked him why he was disturbed, he answered, "I am disturbed because I caused this woman a great deal of agitation and fear." He was such a lover of Allah that he did not want to disturb anything in the creation. He suddenly saw the law of Allah in front of him, done, the decree fulfilled, and he could not go against it. All he had was human judgment, and from the human point of view he said, "I caused her great affliction and fright and as a result she lost hold of my child and this caused his death." Again, from the human point of view, when he was questioned about the death of his son, his answer was, "Now he will be brought to rubūbīyah (Lordship) and will become perfect. The angels will bring him to his fruition according to the decree."

A true lover of Allah must know the meaning of "Every moment He is in a state (of glory)" (Qur`an 55:29); otherwise his islām is at best mere superstition, not the fullness of direct knowledge.

  1. Noble recorders.

Noble powers and forces, angelic or otherwise, lead us in the direction of the creational pattern and decree. These powers are referred to as hāfizīn (guardians, protectors) for their task is to reflect one of the attributes of Allah, al-Hāfiz. The words "Guardian, Keeper, Protector," refer to Allah, the one and only true Guardian. Man's actions are recorded spontaneously, and his reward is instantaneous, to be found then and there in himself. Both the serious and mild sicknesses we suffer from are the direct results of our actions. Our reward is our action, and the meaning of our action is its intention. We are manifested intentions; we are now the sum total of all our past intentions. If they were free -- fī sabīli-llāh (in the way of Allah) -- then we are free. We are as tarnished or as pure as our intentions, and that is what dictates the state and condition of our hearts.

If a man's intentions are as pure as they can be, and yet he acts ignorantly because he does not have enough outer worldly knowledge, others will consider him a fool or even a criminal if some people may be made to suffer from his actions. Allah, Who is the All-Wise, forgives him, however. In this world sharī'ah (outer law) prevails over haqīqah (the eternal truth). Everything follows the laws of Allah, and only Allah is in charge. If a man of pure intentions is put in jail for outwardly rendering disservice to others, it is correct according to the sharī'ah. A real man of Allah would, in jail, be perfectly content with Allah's decree upon him.

Kirāman kātibīn (noble recorders) means that the highest act of generosity is to be on the path, according to which man has been created. The angels, or the powers which keep existence going forward smoothly in this world, are kirāman kātibīn. They are those powers and energies within man, around him, and by him, that record from within. Every single cell in his body echoes his entire beingness, containing the history of all that has happened, all that is happening, and all that is going to happen.

If man has been in a state of denial, kufr (covering up, denial), the possibility of its outer expression is that the cells will devour each other like cancer. Cancer is an outer manifestation which actually is a mercy, because it is signaling the dichotomy that is occurring, possibly without one's knowledge. This does not necessarily mean that the person with cancer has been a dreadful person, but that he has simply been acting, inadvertently, in ignorance. The Prophet, salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa ālihi wa sallam, often prayed for the people who treated him badly and asked that they not be punished, since they acted in ignorance.

Kātibīn comes from the verb kataba, which means "to write, inscribe, compose, destine." There is an implication of "gathering" in this word. Kitāb, therefore, not only means "book," but also "what is done." If a man is in a state of awareness, he can "read" what is done. This is what the Qur`an means. The angels, or forces, are noble in that they are at the limits of their prescribed capabilities in their respective domains. It is written that they are to write, and they do so.

The cosmos is under total control, but not in the sense of a tyrannical, centralized power imposing itself from the outside. The control is already intrinsic to the system. Allah contains all systems and is the Beginner and Sustainer of all systems. Since the system is complete within itself, it will break down if the boundaries are transgressed. Every system breaks down once the boundaries are transgressed.

  1. They know what you do.

Those entities or powers to which we are connected and bound by the One Reality know what we do. Obviously this is so, although the intensity of the knowledge is different. Everything we do will effect everything else in this total ecology. The forces which govern the subtle cosmic fiber know. That is why we say, "The Knower is Allah," and "Allah has knowledge." Saying "Allah knows" could imply separation, indicating that "I am here" and "Allah is there." The men of Allah consider this to be a state of shirk (association of other-than-Allah with Allah.) It is a form of arrogance to say, "Allah knows," because it is as if the Truth needed our confirmation.

Allah is al-'Alīm (the Knower of all). If we increase in 'ilm (knowledge, wisdom), then we will be closer to al-'Alīm, and therefore ignorance will be reduced. As the cup becomes fuller, the empty space in it decreases and a time comes when what is in the cup and the cup itself are understood as being one system, because for there to be contents there must be a container. This is the meaning of the line in the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al Habib, in which he says: "Unite the drink with the cup and be annihilated by it."

Although the two systems appear to be different, the one fluid and the other solid, man is the link, the barzakh (interspace), so he must connect the inside with the outside. From the point of view of the 'ārif bi'llāh (knower of Allah), there is no such thing as outside and inside. There is only Allah, One Reality, manifesting itself in various forms of creation.

  1. Most surely the righteous are in bliss.

This surah began by describing the big impact at the end of the world, the description of which includes our own end, and then gives us good news of bliss. The root of abrār (liberal, just, kind) is barra. Barr is "an expanse of land," but it means more than just a desert. It implies space, openness, and clear vision. Barr is the opposite of bahr (the sea). On the barr everything is evident, but in the bahr everything is hidden below the surface. The sea has connotations of something that is deep, whereas a plain, on the other hand, implies something that is very shallow. Usually when the bahr is next to the barr, hardly anything can be seen on the barr except endless flatness reaching out in all directions, while in the bahr the most amazing life can be found. In fact, the most amazing seas in the world are those which lie next to barren places, such as the Red Sea, which has unparalleled delights for the deep sea diver. The beauty of the underwater world is unimaginable, but when one comes out onto the shore there is nothing but empty, endless desert.

Na'īm (happiness, peaceful, tranquil) is from na'ama "to live in comfort and ease, to be happy, soft" Na'am means "yes." The ni'mah of Allah, is His "blessing or bounty." It is in man's nature to say "Yes!" to the bounty of Allah. Those who are abrār are in ni'mah (comfort), that which physically sustains one.

  1. And most surely the wicked are in burning fire --

When a person goes against his nature or reality, he is wicked, in that he is committing a crime against himself. A fājir is someone who sends himself into transgression, someone who has deviated, who has gone beyond the bounds of the dīn, beyond the limits of his higher nature. From this point of view, those fujjār are in hell. The experience of hell means turmoil, constant agitation, the death of stability, and these states can be tasted not only after death but also in this life.

  1. They will enter it on the Day of Judgment.

The fujjār will reach the Fire on the Day of Judgment, the day on which debts must be paid. Every instant is one in which we could be paying our debts. If we are willing to do this at every moment, we will be in balance. If we try to hide them instead, the Yawmu-d-dīn (Day of Judgment) becomes the day of our death, or the Day of Reckoning. This is a lesser Day of Judgment. The greater Day of Judgment will come when there is nothing left to be hidden. Yawm (day) means not only a twenty-four hour period, but also a state of mind. As human beings, our yawm is twenty four hours, but Allah's yawm is different; it can be 50,000 years, as the Qur`an says.

  1. And they will not be absent from it!

Ghā`ib means "absent or hidden." At the moment of truth no one will be able to absent himself. At the moment of truth, whether it be now or later, everything will be taken into account, and there will be no escape. We will see that whatever we planted out of good intention will directly bear fruit. Each person will be the true witnesser, and this is the true meaning of shahādah (direct witnessing). If we do not constantly face our intentions here and now, we will have to deal with them later all at one time. The way to this understanding lies in recognizing what our intentions are and what they have been. Those who want to succeed in this world always want to know what their bank balance is. They do not want to be told five days later that the balance was several decimal points out. They want to know right away so correct action may be taken.

The key to success is Allah. If a person loves Allah then he has no option but to succeed in this world. He will account for every instant as it passes and not postpone it. Only senseless people do not want to review their bank account because they suspect that they have been abusing them. But if they knew that the balance was in their favor, then they would want to see it all the time. If we account for ourselves every instant, then we are clear.

Imam al-Hasan, 'alayhi-s-salām, quoting from the Prophet Muhammad, salla-Ilāhu 'alayhi wa ālihi wa sallam, his grandfather, says, "He who is afraid of Allah will never be afraid of the slaves of Allah, while he who is afraid of the slaves of Allah is not afraid of Allah." This is because the slaves of Allah, meaning all human beings, are reflections of one's own self. And if he fears Allah, then as Imam al-Hasan also says, "He who wants to please Allah will find that the creation is pleased with him, and he who wants to please creation will find that Allah is not pleased with him."

If at every instant we were willing to account for everything to Allah as though we had just been resurrected from the grave, as though our intentions were exposed on our chests, then we should be free from entanglements and should find ourselves more efficient. Our intellect ('aql) would become sharper because it is a faculty that has to be developed, and we would act as if we are always ready to hand over the whole of our existence for Him to review.

We delay confronting ourselves mostly because we do not want to disturb our familiar illusions. But every action has its equal and opposite reaction. Everything in life is due to its courtesy (adab), and the more we know it, the more efficient we become in that situation. This knowledge, in fact, resides in our hearts. Courtesy (adab) has everything to do with how willing we are to face our balance sheets.

  1. And what will make you realize what the Day of Judgment is?

What do we know about the Day of Reckoning? Why can it not be right now? It is for this reason that when a Muslim is unsuccessful, we know that he is not in Islam. If a man is not successful, something is wrong. It is not a judgment upon him, for that is between him and Allah, but the path is one of pure science. The real man of Allah does not waste time. If he is unsuccessful, it means he acted wrongly; perhaps he did not act with the right discrimination, did not judge correctly, or did not take counsel correctly; perhaps he was attached to something.

If we are willing to face everything within us at any moment, we find that when we see and recognize all the snakes and scorpions we have hidden, we shall know how to deal with them so they do not sting or bite us. We thus enter into awareness. That is why we say that people who have come to the inner circles of the men of Allah are transformed forever. Through having had one split second of awakening, they know their true nature, their true reality. When a man really knows the state of his heart, when he is genuinely, absolutely, totally aware, then he has reached his goal.

The Day of judgment (yawm al-dīn) is only a day, an instant, a split second, and yet it is also a condition. Are we reckoning with ourselves now? It is impertinent to pose questions about the last Hour. We cannot see the moment because we are excited about tomorrow. This anticipation results from the desire to escape from the amazing, unending depth of the moment which we are frittering away. We must learn to see the beauty of an apparent evil, the depth of the present and its meaning, as well as to see how it came about and what path was taken to make it come about in this particular way. We must learn to see perfection and to see without judging.

  1. Again, what will make you realize what the Day of Judgment is?

The verse is repeated here in order to drive the point home. What more signs do we need? The path is absolute science; it is the path of safā` (purity, clarity).

  1. The day when no self will have power [to do] anything for [another] self, and the command that day is Allah's.

If a person accepts that condition of having no power or control over anything or anyone else and relinquishes power and ownership right now, then Yawm al-dīn (The Day of Judgment) is Yawm amr Allāh (the Day of Allah's order or command for him). At the moment we are in shirk (i.e. we associate partners with Allah) when we say, 'It is between Allah and me'. This yawm (this day), is divided between Allah and us, because we are confused as to which is the divine decree and which is merely our own whim. We cannot distinguish between what is wahm (illusion) and hawā (desire), or what Allah has written. Allah has written things to be followed according to definite laws. If we transgress them, we will be destroyed, inwardly and outwardly.

Yawm al-dīn (The Day of Judgment) is defined as the 'Day on which no self will have power [to do] anything for [another] self'. In other words, each person must be completely and utterly responsible for himself right now, without making the excuse of having responsibilities for others prior to taking responsibility for himself, for ultimately there is only one self. Each person is responsible for everything; no one is separate, but first we must know who we are. If we have done that, then we can greet the Day of Reckoning with light hearts.

End of the Surah

Back Up Next

The Opening - A Commentary on Chapter 1: Surat Al-Fatiha ] The Cow - A Commentary on Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah ] The Family of 'Imrān - A Commentary on Chapter 3: Surat Al-'Imrān ] The Spider - A Commentary on Chapter 29: Surat Al-'Ankabt ] The Heart of the Qur`an - A Commentary on Chapter 36: Surat Ya Sin ] The Beneficent - A Commentary on Chapter 55: Surat Al-Rahmn ] The Event - A Commentary on Chapter 56: Surat Al-Wqi'ah ] The Kingdom - A Commentary on Chapter 67: Surat Al-Mulk ] The Jinn - A Commentary on Chapter 72: Surat Al-Jinn ] The Unwrapped - A Commentary on Chapter 73: Surat Al-Muzzammil ] A Commentary on the Last Section of the Qur`an ]