ON THE LAST SECTION QUR`AN
Those Who Tear Out
the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful
is a late Meccan surah (chapter) concerning this life and the
life after this existence and it also gives a description of the
events that will take place on the Day of Judgment.
those who tear out violently.
chapter begins by describing various forces of which every one is
aware. One popular interpretation is that it refers to the angelic
powers, those myriad forces which perform various functions
throughout the creation.
comes from naza`a, which means to 'to take away, to strip
off, to quarrel', implying two forces opposing each other. Ghariqa,
the root verb of gharq, means 'to become immersed, to go
under, to be drowned.' There is an ambiguity here, the explanation
of which only Allah knows for certain. This could be a reference to
the moment of death, when the angels of death forcefully strip life
away from those people who do not want to depart from this life and
who are not prepared for the next experience. Their souls have to be
forcibly stripped out of their bodies in order for them to continue
the course of destiny. This verse could also refer to the cosmos.
The first five verses could equally refer to the different types of
planets and stars since they are all energy centers which keep the
cosmos in a state of perpetual motion.
by those who draw out gently,
is translated here as 'gently' (nasht) could also be
rendered as 'easily, vigorously or energetically'. This might refer
to those souls which become nashit,
vigorous and active, healthy and dynamic. `Alî Zayn al-`Abidîn
once said, 'Death for the one who trusts Reality is like the
stripping off of a foul-smelling and filthy garment'. Such a soul
looks forward to the next experience because it knows that the next
life does not contain the turmoil and tribulation of this world.
Clearly, no interference can take place there. We cannot intervene
or interject, for we shall be actionless, at peace.
verse might also be a reference to distant starts whose light
reaches us after hundreds and thousands of light years and which are
forever speeding away in the cosmic expansion.
by those who float in space,
'those who float', derives from the verbal root sabaha which
means 'to swim, to float, to drift'. The soul flows with destiny and
moves along its course with no resistance. 'Those who float' could
also refer to those entities whose substance is similar to energy
wavebands the angels who make it easier for souls willing to
surrender. Once again this verse could apply to the planets spinning
along their orbital paths.
those who are foremost going ahead,
verses can also be taken entirely on the level of the mulk
(earthly dominion, having to do with worldly things). Sabaqa
means 'to go ahead of, to outdistance'. Sibâq, from this
same root, refers to racing, especially of horses. Some commentaries
say that this verse means 'to see the thoroughbred, to see the
winning horse'. The horse that has been true to its breeding is a
winning horse. If we read this verse in the light of the cosmic
expansion, it may also refer to planets that move faster than other
stars or galaxies which move further than others in their
those who regulate the affair.
may refer to those forces, powers, planets and energies whose
objective is tadbîr (management), which comes from dabbara,
meaning, 'to make arrangements, organize, regulate', that is, to
perform actions which interconnect the various happenings in this
world, actions that eventually become manifest as movements of wind,
clouds, volcanoes, or human beings; in other words, a movement of
the outward elements which hold all elements together. Anything
which is included among mudabbirât is concerned with tadbîr
or the arranging of affairs.
chapter cause us to begin to reflect on all the powers and forces
from which we are not separate and which affect us outwardly and
inwardly, such as the spirit within our bodies and the surrounding
environment. These first verses are a prelude to the explanation of
what will occur when this creation, expanding forth from the initial
explosion, comes to an end, collapsing into its single point of
Day when the quaking one will quake,
is the first occurrence heralding the end of the expansion. When
that expansion stops, a major disturbance in the entire cosmic
system will take place. As far as the earth is concerned, there will
be a violent quaking and trembling rajifah.
a system follows its natural course, it moves smoothly. Once its
course is changed and redirected, that break manifests itself in
resistance which, in this instance, takes the form of trembling.
This first occurrence is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur'an, which
describes in detail how the world will come to an end. This verse
indicates the stopping of the first system. Systems always interact
with one another; thus, when one stops another begins. What holds
these various and overlapping systems together is beyond our
comes after will follow.
next quake will then come, the next sounding of the trumpet, which
will herald the new course in the `alam
the world of subtle energies as distinct from the world of gross
comes from radifa, meaning 'to follow, come next', and radif
means 'the next one, what follows'. The first quake, or the first
sounding, will be the rending-apart of the existing system, and the
second quake will be the start of the next system.
on that day will throb,
statement implies that all that will remain of us at that time is
what was implanted in our hearts, which is all that has been
constructed by our actions and intentions in this life. The hearts
of those who have denied this occurrence, who have denied the truth
of the message that there is only one reality and one Creator and
that we are never separate from our decreed destiny, those hearts
will be completely at odds. When the Resurrection begins, they will
then feel the separation sharply. They will feel that they are not
flowing smoothly with the current but struggling against it.
eyes cast down.
sight, his faculty of perception, will no longer function as it did
before. His vision and the expectations in his heart will be low,
subdued, disconnected from events, and therefore cast aside.
say: Will we indeed be restored to [our] first state?
state or situation of those hearts echoes a rebellion which is based
on their doubt and questioning 'Are we going to return? Is there a
return? Are we going to start all over again? Is there going to be a
continuation, another cycle?'
When we are rotten bones?
questioning continues with a firmly voiced doubt, as if to say 'How
can that be? We never expected it!' Being simplistically causal,
they were only judging it from the clumsy attitude of a physical
point of view. So they wonder how these bones can be restored after
they, the hardest element of our bodies, have decayed. They must
understand that this question is not concerned with flesh and bones
but with the rûh (spirit) and what it has done during its
passage through this world.
They say: This, then,
would be a return with loss.
As soon as they realize
that they must enter into a new phase, they conclude that they have
returned to a situation of loss, because their rûh is not
ready for this next realm of existence. They already realize that in
the next experience they will be completely bereft.
But it will be only a
verbal root of zajrah (cry), means 'to drive back, drive
away, prevent, rebuke'. For those people who have been astray, the
ones who have denied the truth of the message that there will be a
return, an afterlife, there is but one shout, one major reminder.
Instantaneously, the souls will realize that they are at a loss.
They will recognize it and announce it openly, for it is embedded
within the soul.
When behold! They will
The ordinary meaning of
sâhirah is 'the surface of the earth'. The inner meaning is
derived from the root of the word sahira, which means 'to be
sleepless, to stay awake (in some activity)'. Sahar means 'insomania'.
This implies that the surface of the earth is always alive. Here the
meaning is that once these souls have been awakened, they will be
awake to Reality forever. They were asleep to the truth before, but
suddenly they will awaken. The outer meaning of this verse is that
the dead bodies which had been previously hidden in their graves
will be cast up to the surface of the earth as it heaves and quakes.
The inner meaning is that those souls will suddenly be fully
awakened. There will be no more sleepiness in our consciousness of
the kind that we may experience in this life.
Has the story of Moses
[Musa] not come to you?
Now we are brought to an
example in this world, to the story of the prophet Moses (Musa),
when his Lord and Sustainer called him to action, to move along the
path of reality in this life.
When his Lord called
upon him in the holy valley of Tuwa
Moses, peace be upon
him, was brought into the sacred valley of Tuwa. His heart was held
by al-rûh al-qudus (the holy spirit). His heart was caught by
the Rubûbîyyah (Lordship) of his Lord. He had no option but
to serve his Lord, and he was inspired by Him to strike at the top
of the pyramid of corruption.
Go to Pharaoh [Fir'awn],
he has certainly transgressed the bounds!
When someone is a slave
of the Highest, then his task will be of the highest degree of
difficulty, his responsibility will be the heaviest, and his rewards
will be the greatest. Moses was commissioned to direct the message
of unity to Pharaoh (Fir'awn) because the latter had
transgressed and as a result of his transgression an entire nation
had been misled into a state of loss.
Then say: Will you
Allah commanded Moses to
give Pharaoh the message and question him as to why he had not
purified himself. 'Why have you not given up yourself in submission?
Why do you not move along the path of self-abandonment? Why do you
not shed this garb that you have taken on, in which you are hiding
and playing at being God?'
And, I will guide you to
your Lord so that you fear.
The implication here is
that Pharaoh had no fear of anything and no respect for anything; he
had no knowledge of the boundaries of behavior. Guidance (hidâyah;
from hadâ) here implies fear (khashyah; from
khashiya, to fear or dread something). The door to guidance is
the fear of transgression, the fear of making mistakes and the fear
of displeasing Allah by breaking His laws which govern both this
existence and the next. This was the message of Moses to Pharaoh. He
was saying, 'If
you are willing, if you want to purify yourself, if you want to live
a life of pure existence in true preparation for the next world, I
will show you the way, clearly indicating the boundaries, so that
you will be fearful of overstepping them. Then you will be guided to
the one and only Truth. If you do not have fear, then you cannot
So he showed him the
great sign –
Moses displayed many
signs to Pharaoh, many of which were tangible: his staff which
became a serpent; his white, shining hand, and many others. These
were ordinary signs. The reference here is to al-âyat al-kubrâ
(the great sign), which is the knowledge of Allah. Moses said
'If you have fear, you
will have guidance, and from that will come knowledge of the one and
only Reality from Whom you are not separate!'
Moses' message to
Pharaoh was not an ordinary one, because Pharaoh was not an ordinary
king. He was involved in knowledges and sciences that were very
sophisticated. He had innumerable powers but they were not being
exercised in accordance with the Sunnah (way) of Allah. For
example, he and his people used supernatural powers, such as
harnessing the jinn, or unseen forces of power. For a true
man of Allah, such powers mean nothing – they are just insignificant
gifts. The highest of all sings is the knowledge of Allah, while the
lowest signs are outer ones, the so-called miracles. There is only
Allah, and we have come into this world to be baffled, tested and
afflicted in order to surrender and submit to Him. The way is
through fear (khashyah) of transgression.
But he denied and
Having invested all his
life in his system of power-mongering and control, Pharaoh could not
accept this message that he should be fearful of transgression. His
powerful arrogance prevented him from receiving it. His reaction to
the clear sign that there is only Allah, and that he was of no
significance was to deny the spark of truth that was in his heart.
'Asâ means 'to
disobey, resist, defy, oppose'. After denying, he sought to be
reconfirmed in his position. We all want confirmation in this life,
for we all seek security. We seek confirmation that what we are
doing is right. After all, we are lovers of the One Reality. If our
thoughts are perverted, therefore, we shall want to be connected
with a people who are also perverted in their thinking.
At all times we worship
and adore the Divine Attributes. Everything in creation is in a
state of perfection, and we are only witnesses of it. There is
nothing we can add to it. Only those who have been chosen for a
higher mission will have to come out and act, teach, and follow in
the footsteps of the prophets, like Moses. Pharaoh quite naturally
and understandably did not comprehend this message and veered off in
his own perverted direction.
Then he went back
He went in great haste
to collect himself and to connect with his own system of denial (kufr,
covering up), and of consolidating power for himself.
So he gathered and
He collected his
supporters together because he felt vulnerable. Isolated by the
illuminating beam of Moses' message, he gathered all his supporters
together in order to gain reassurance.
Then he said: I am the
Then he retreated into
his old habits, safe and sound under the crown of leadership and
lordship with which he had crowned himself. He was playing at being
God, trying to set himself up in that most powerful and impossible
position. This is a grave danger for all human beings. The higher we
go, the more this danger becomes accentuated. People of insight and
inward strength must especially be kept within the limits of the
revealed code of conduct, sharî'ah, the parameters of the
outer law, for the danger of self-delusion lies within all of us. We
have all seen it in this life, both among people of the outward (zâhir),
and the people of the inward (bâtin). There is always a
tendency to fall prey to this danger unless we continue the journey
on the path of knowledge within the sharî'ah, through regular
and constant performance of prayer and worship.
Pharaoh said, 'I am the
highest Lord,' to his people. But no man can exist in isolation
because he is either connected to the one and only Reality and can
only act as its slave, or he is connected to a perverted and
distorted version of the truth, as in this case.
So Allah seized him with
the punishment of the Hereafter and of this life.
The reaction of Reality
to Pharaoh in his self-elevated position was punishment. Nakâl
means punishment. He received a rebuttal from Reality for both his
early and his later deeds, both for those he had committed before
Moses came to him and for those committed afterwards. This verse
refers to the suffering with which he was afflicted in this life as
well as later. As we know, Pharaoh and his people were drowned
crossing the Red Sea. But 'last' and 'first' could also mean 'outer'
and 'inner'; outwardly he was challenged, and inwardly he was
tormented. Outwardly he could not do anything in the face of Moses'
actions, nor did he inwardly know how to react to the message. His
eventual physical destruction was a postscript to the ultimate
prevalence of truth over self-delusion.
Most certainly there is
in this a lesson for he who fears.
'admonition, example, lesson'. The root is 'abara, which
means 'to cross, traverse, interpret (a dream), or shed tears'. This
implies that a real lesson learnt makes us cross over from falsehood
to truth. The word for 'Hebrew' (ibrî) comes from the same
root, because they crossed to the safety of the other shore. It also
implies crossing to the shore of knowledge for he who is eager to
know is concerned about not remaining in ignorance. Such a person
wants to have safe conduct which is secured by correct behavior.
In these verses we have
been given the example of a man of Reality, a man of Allah, in this
case the Prophet Moses (Musa), and his polar opposite, a man of
loss, preoccupied solely with his own power. We are told in the
Qur`an that the two systems cannot meet 'To you your way and to
me my way' (109:6). The system of denial will be destroyed, and
the system of Truth will prevail.
Are you harder to
create, or the heaven? He erected it.
Reflecting on Pharaoh's
power and what became of him and his people, we are now questioned,
forcing us to reflect upon the power that created our cosmos.
Samâ` (sky, heaven) implies that which is holding our cosmos
together. The verbal root of samâ` means 'to be high', not
just in the vertical sense, but also figuratively, to be elevated or
lofty. It also means, therefore, 'to go beyond the understanding (of
someone)'. Rajul sâmin means 'a man of high values, of high
This verse refers to the
nearer heavens of the planetary systems as well as the outer heavens
beyond them. The Qur`an tells us that Allah created seven heavens
(41:12). The heavens which we can perceive, which to us seem
unfathomable, are in fact the lowest heavens. Above them are six
other heavens. Just as there are seven heavens, so are there seven
layers in the earth, the innermost being molten metal. There are
also seven 'heavens' of energy levels of electrons around the
nucleus of the atom.
In Arabic however, the
numbers seven or seventy (or even multiples of seven) imply a very
large number. In ordinary speech, if we say that someone has told us
something seven times, it does not necessarily mean an actual seven
times but could simply mean many times. The same is true of the
number seventy. In many of the traditions of the Prophet, we find
these numbers mentioned, as for example when he said, 'No day has
passed without my seeking pardon of Allah seventy times.' This does
not necessarily mean that he counted seventy beads on a tasbîh
(prayer beads) or that he sat with a pile of date-pits, as was
common at that time, counting out the number of times he said, 'Astaghfir
Allah' (I seek forgiveness of Allah). Rather, it means that he
said this a great number of time, probably at least seventy.
He raised high its
height, then put it in order.
Samk means 'roof'
or 'ceiling', sumk means 'thickness', while sâmik
means 'thick'. Rafa'a samkaha, 'he raised up its height',
means that the width of the heaven was increased to what in our
perception is an unfathomable degree. In this verse the word implies
that the heavens are exploding. It is possible to read into this
verse the meaning of the Big Bang.
put it in order) is one of the earliest references to the word
sawâ, meaning 'to be equivalent, even, level, to smooth,
equalize, regulate, put in order'. Sawâ and its derivatives
overlap in meaning with 'adala, which means 'to act justly,
to be equal, to equalize, to set in order'. From sawa comes
the word musâwâh, which means 'equality before the law', and
taswîyah, which means 'arrangement, equalization'. So after
the great explosion, order was established.
And He made dark its
night and brought out the light of its morning.
This refers to the
duality of existence, the night was rendered dark; the day, the
early morning, was brought out and made more visible. Akhraja
means 'to bring out, or bring forth'. Kharaja the root of
akhraja means 'to go out, to come out'. Kharâj is what we
are supposed to pay from our wealth as our tax (zakât).
And the earth, He
expanded it after that.
The earth is part of the
total creational balance. Here the earth was stretched out flat and
made usable. Dahâ means 'to spread out, flatten, level,
unroll', and dahyah means 'egg'. This refers to the fact that
the earth was created flattened at the poles, a fact that modern man
has only known for a few decades.
He brought forth from it
its water and its pasturage
In the early stages of
creation, the earth solidified from molten or gaseous material. The
fluid catalyst that was needed in order to transform solid matter
into more usable, life-sustaining matter, and thence into plants,
animals and human beings, was squeezed out of the earth.
'pasturage' or 'a place for grazing'. Ra'â means 'to graze',
and it also means 'to tend a flock of animals', or more generally
'to take care of someone or something'. Râ'î is shepherd,
while râ'inî means 'take care of me'. Thus from the earth
comes a fluidity which both renders life possible and gives us the
possibility to graze on it.
And the mountains, He
made them firm –
Here again we have an
example of how the earth came about, settling into a solid form.
Arsâhâ means that 'He has made them fast in a liquid medium, He
anchored them', and it comes from rasâ, which means 'to be
firm', and 'to anchor'. This firmness exists in order for us to
settle and seek provision and to give us the stability we need to
help us to go through life's journey. Thus the Qur`an told us over
1,400 years ago what modern geologists have only recently been able
to describe about the original formation of the earth.
A provision for you and
for your cattle.
As the earth settles and
evolves, provision for mankind and beast is given, providing a
certain measure of ease on this journey of ours on this earth.
But when the great
calamity comes –
Death is the great
calamity for those who regard the experience of this world as the
main objective of our existence, but it is only a prelude to the
The Day on which man
will recollect that for which he strove –
It is on that day that
man will remember all that had gone before, and all that he strove
for will unfold for him, revealing his intentions, actions, and
therefore his reality. You are who you are on that day, with no
pretences or veneer.
And Hell will be
manifest to him who sees.
On that day our sight
will be sharper than before and jahîm, which is another name
for Hell, will become vividly evident. Those who have been leading
their lives in that direction of inner agitation will see it
Then, as for him who has
transgressed the bounds –
And prefers the life of
this world –
Then certainly Hell,
That is the abode!
'this world' as opposed to the next, derives from danâ, which
means 'to be low, near, close to', as well as 'to be or become base,
mean, or despicable'. In preferring the life of this world one
automatically moves towards grosser materialism, which by its very
nature is base.
For those who
transgressed in this world, preferring the life of this world to the
next, that is, for those who have denied and been engulfed in their
denial, a state of permanent agitation is their final resting place.
And as for him who fears
to stand before his Lord, and restrains the self from low desires –
As for him who feared
the overwhelming power and position of his Lord, who always stood as
though he were in the hands of his Lord, and who always acted as
though he were an extension of that Lordship, he is someone who
forbade his soul low desires, who stayed in remembrance and did not
Whoever is always aware
of the havoc of the nafs can play by its whims, by its
hawâ (desire), always remains on the straight, and therefore
Then surely the Garden –
that is the abode!
For whoever maintains
fearful awareness of Allah's presence, Jannah (the Garden) is
his natural final abode, since he has been preparing for it here and
now and has already learned its condition and its state. He has
already entered into a state of the Garden in this world in
preparation for his final and perpetual state in the next world.
They ask you about the
Hour – when it will come.
This is a reference to
the Hour of Reckoning (Day of Judgment), the hour of complete and
total unfolding, the hour in which action and reaction meet and are
united, in which man's intentions, deeds and spirit will be
connected and unified. This is when man will see himself to be the
result of his actions which are, in reality, the manifestations of
his intentions. He will see nothing other than the subtle nature
which was his all along, and it will be clear that he was always
presented with the option of either polishing it or causing it to be
increasingly covered by his lower nature.
About what! You are of
He who asks about the
Hour is not seriously concerned, for if he believes in it he will
always be prepared for his death and accountability. If one's
condition is this, then there is no reason to be obsessed with the
cosmic end of the world. Concern with one's own hour supersedes
concern with the final cosmic or Absolute Hour.
Toward your Lord is the
goal of it.
How can you remind them
of its goal, its end? All time stops with the Lord, for Allah is
beyond time. That Hour, that stoppage of time, that end or resting
place, is with the Lord.
You are only a warner to
him who fears it.
All we can do in this
realm, which is subject to time, is to warn others, to make them
aware that a situation will come about in which time will stop. At
that moment all we shall have as our capital is what we have earned
by our actions and the knowledge which we have brought forth from
the source of knowledge within us, by our precautionary awareness
that this experience will come to an end.
On the Day that they see
it, it will be as though they had not tarried except for the latter
part of a day, or the early part of it.
The final hour can be
tasted here, but in the absolute final hour, time will stop. When we
experience that, the long years of this life will seem like just one
day, or part of a day and a night. Life will seem short and
insignificant. When time comes to an end and we look at it from the
angle of that state of consciousness, our total existence in this
world will seem completely distorted. We shall have left time and
gone into timelessness, which is the essential backdrop to time; and
Allah is the Timeless.
End of the Surah