Sura/Chapter:

Verse:    Count: 29
Tafseer/Commentary:
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Translations:
81: At-Takwir - التكوير

81:1
[ Original ]
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ إِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up;
[ Saheeh International ]
When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]
Tafseer Commentary

5969 Verses 1 to 13 are conditional clauses, and the substantive clause is in verse 14. The time will come when nature's processes as we know them will cease to function, and the soul will only then know by self-conviction the results of its actions. With reference to an individual soul, its resurrection is its supreme crisis: the whole world of sense, and even of imagination and reason, melts away, and its whole spiritual scroll is laid bare before it.

5970 The conditional clauses are twelve, in two groups of six. The first six affect the outer or physical life of man; the last six, his inmost spiritual life. Let us take them one by one. (1) The biggest factor affecting us in the external physical World is the light, heat, and perhaps electric or magnetic energy of the sun. The sun is the source of all the light, heat, and energy, and indeed the source and support of all physical life that we know. It is the biggest factor and yet most remote from us in our solar system. Yet the sources of our inner spiritual life will be greater and more lasting, for they will survive it. The sun as the centre of our solar system also stands as a symbol of the present order of things. The physical forces, as defined in Newton 's laws of Matter and Attraction, will also break up with the break-up of the sun. Is folded up: is folded up, or twisted up, like a sheet or garment.


81:2
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا النُّجُومُ انْكَدَرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the stars fall, losing their lustre;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the stars fall, dispersing,
Tafseer Commentary

5971 (2) Next after the sun, we can derive faint lights from the innumerable stars in the firmament. For all the ages of which we have any record, these stars have remained fixed. Nothing can be more fixed: yet they can and will fail.


81:3
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْجِبَالُ سُيِّرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the mountains vanish (like a mirage);
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the mountains are removed
Tafseer Commentary

5972 Cf. 78:20. (3) On our own earth the mountains-the "eternal hills'-seem the most striking examples of stability; yet they will be swept away like a mirage, as if they had never existed.


81:4
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْعِشَارُ عُطِّلَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the she-camels, ten months with young, are left untended;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when full-term she-camels are neglected
Tafseer Commentary

5973 (4) The type of Arab property, as well as the type of the Arab pet, was the camel, and the most precious camel was the she-camel just about to be delivered of her young. She would in normal times be most sedulously cared for. But when all our landmarks of this life vanish, even she would be left untended. Nothing would then be as it is now.


81:5
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْوُحُوشُ حُشِرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the wild beasts are herded together (in the human habitations);
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the wild beasts are gathered
Tafseer Commentary

5974 (5) In the present world, the wild animals fear each other, and they all fear man and normally keep away from human habitations. But when this order passes away, there will be scarcely any differentiation between human habitations and the wilds of the forests.


81:6
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْبِحَارُ سُجِّرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the oceans boil over with a swell;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the seas are filled with flame
Tafseer Commentary

5975 See 52:6 and n. 5041. (6) The oceans, which now keep their bounds, will surge and boil over, and overwhelm all landmarks. At present the waters seem to have reached their fixed and normal levels, but the whole equilibrium will then be disturbed. Such will be the complete wreck of this transitory world, at the approach of the dawn of the permanent Reality. But these are physical symbols, relating to the outer nature surrounding the physical nature of man. The remaining six, viz.: the 7th to the 12th, describe the ordering of the new spiritual World, from which all present seeming incongruities will be removed.


81:7
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا النُّفُوسُ زُوِّجَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the souls are sorted out, (being joined, like with like);
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the souls are paired
Tafseer Commentary

5976 Cf. 56:7, where the sorting out into three classes is mentioned, viz.: Those Nearest to Allah, the Companions of the Right Hand, and the Companions of the Left Hand. That was a sort of broad general division. The meaning in this passage is wider. (7) Whereas in this world of probation, good is mixed with evil, knowledge with ignorance, power with arrogance, and so on-in the new world of Reality, all true values will be restored, and like will consort with like, for it will be a world of perfect Peace, Harmony, and Justice.


81:8
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned -
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked

81:9
[ Original ]
بِأَيِّ ذَنْبٍ قُتِلَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
For what crime she was killed;
[ Saheeh International ]
For what sin she was killed
Tafseer Commentary

5977 (8) In this world of sin and sorrow, much unjust suffering is caused, and innocent lives sacrificed, without a trace being left, by which offenders can be brought to justice. A striking example before the Quraysh was female infanticide: cf. 16:58-59, and n. 2084. The crime was committed in the guise of social plausibility in secret collusion, and no question was asked here. But in the spiritual world of Justice, full questions will be asked, and the victim herself-dumb here-will be able to give evidence, for she had committed no crime herself. The proofs will be drawn from the very means used for concealment.


81:10
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الصُّحُفُ نُشِرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the scrolls are laid open;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the pages are made public
Tafseer Commentary

5978 (9) The Scrolls recording the deeds of men, good or bad, will then be laid open before all. Cf. 50:17-18, n. 4954; also 82:11-12. In the present phenomenal world, things may be concealed; but in the spiritual world of absolute Reality, every secret is opened out, good or bad. The whole tale of acts, omissions, motives, imponderable spiritual hurt, neglect, or help will be laid bare.


81:11
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا السَّمَاءُ كُشِطَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the world on High is unveiled;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when the sky is stripped away
Tafseer Commentary

5979 The World on High: literally, the Sky, or Heaven as standing for both the Blazing Fire and the Garden, the Home of the Hereafter. (10) The soul's spiritual Sky-the things it held high or sacred-will be stripped of the thin blue that gave restand partly illusion-to its spiritual eye in the world of illusions. Just as when an animal is skinned, its real flesh and blood and inner organs become visible, without any outer coating to hold them together, so the inmost state of the spiritual world will then become plain.


81:12
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْجَحِيمُ سُعِّرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When the Blazing Fire is kindled to fierce heat;
[ Saheeh International ]
And when Hellfire is set ablaze
Tafseer Commentary

5980 (11) Then will burn the Blazing Fire of the Hell, worse than the fiercest fire. (R).


81:13
[ Original ]
وَإِذَا الْجَنَّةُ أُزْلِفَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And when the Garden is brought near;-
[ Saheeh International ]
And when Paradise is brought near,
Tafseer Commentary

5981 (12) The last of the Metaphors, the Garden of Bliss-the Light of Allah's Face (92:20)-will come in sight-not yet attained, but visible, or "brought near". For the scales have fallen from the eyes, and the soul knows itself.

5982 See 75:22, n. 5822; 78:40, n. 5914; and 79:14, n. 5926. [Eds.].


81:14
[ Original ]
عَلِمَتْ نَفْسٌ مَا أَحْضَرَتْ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(Then) shall each soul know what it has put forward.
[ Saheeh International ]
A soul will [then] know what it has brought [with it].
Tafseer Commentary

5983 This is the conclusion. It is only on such conditions that the soul reaches its full realisation. Put forward: cf. "the Deeds which his hands have sent forth" in 78:40.


81:15
[ Original ]
فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالْخُنَّسِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
So verily I call to witness the Planets - that recede,
[ Saheeh International ]
So I swear by the retreating stars -
Tafseer Commentary

5984 Cf. 56:75, n. 5258, for the witness that the heavenly bodies bear symbolically to the power, beauty, and goodness of Allah, in sending His Revelation. See n. 5798 to 74:32, for the significance of an adjuration in the Qur'an.

5985 The appeal here is made to three things, the Planets, the Night, and the Dawn. (1) The Planets have a retrograde and a forward motion, and during occultation, hide or disappear behind the sun or moon, or are otherwise invisible or appear stationary. They behave differently from the millions of stars around them. Yet they are not mere erratic bodies, but obey definite laws, and evidence the power and wisdom of Allah.


81:16
[ Original ]
الْجَوَارِ الْكُنَّسِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Go straight, or hide;
[ Saheeh International ]
Those that run [their courses] and disappear -

81:17
[ Original ]
وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا عَسْعَسَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And the Night as it dissipates;
[ Saheeh International ]
And by the night as it closes in
Tafseer Commentary

5986 How the Night gradually declines after its height at midnight! It seems gradually to steal away, and as Dawn approaches, to merge into Day. So a soul in spiritual darkness gradually awakes to its spiritual Dawn through Revelation.


81:18
[ Original ]
وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا تَنَفَّسَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And the Dawn as it breathes away the darkness;-
[ Saheeh International ]
And by the dawn when it breathes
Tafseer Commentary

5987 The slow "breathing out" of the darkness by the Dawn, shown us, by beautiful imagery, that these mysterious operations, of which people in their ignorance are frightened if they have to do with darkness, are really beneficent operations of Allah. They have nothing to do with evil spirits, or witches, or magic. For three questions were actually raised about the Prophet's Ministry by the ignorant (1) Did his wonderful works come from himself and not from Allah? (2) Was he possessed of an evil spirit? In other words, was he mad? For that was the theory of madness, then current. (3) Was he a soothsayer, or necromancer, or magician? For he had virtues, powers, and eloquence, so extraordinary that they could not understand him.


81:19
[ Original ]
إِنَّهُ لَقَوْلُ رَسُولٍ كَرِيمٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily this is the word of a most honourable Messenger,
[ Saheeh International ]
[That] indeed, the Qur'an is a word [conveyed by] a noble messenger
Tafseer Commentary

5988 They are told here that all their three theories were foolish. The Revelation was really from Allah. Their wonder should cease if they observe the daily miracles worked round them in nature. The bringer of Allah's Message was the angel Gabriel, and not an evil spirit.


81:20
[ Original ]
ذِي قُوَّةٍ عِنْدَ ذِي الْعَرْشِ مَكِينٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Endued with Power, with rank before the Lord of the Throne,
[ Saheeh International ]
[Who is] possessed of power and with the Owner of the Throne, secure [in position],
Tafseer Commentary

5989 Not only was the bringer of the Revelation. Gabriel, an honourable Messenger, incapable of deceit, but he had, in the angelic kingdom, rank and authority before Allah's Throne, and he could convey an authoritative divine Message. He was, like the Prophet, faithful to his trust; and therefore there could be no question of the Message being delivered in any other way than exactly according to the divine Will and Purpose. These epithets could apply to the Prophet himself, but in view of verse 23 below, it is best to understand them of Gabriel.


81:21
[ Original ]
مُطَاعٍ ثَمَّ أَمِينٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
With authority there, (and) faithful to his trust.
[ Saheeh International ]
Obeyed there [in the heavens] and trustworthy.

81:22
[ Original ]
وَمَا صَاحِبُكُمْ بِمَجْنُونٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And (O people!) your companion is not one possessed;
[ Saheeh International ]
And your companion is not [at all] mad.
Tafseer Commentary

5990 After describing the credentials of the Archangel Gabriel, the Text now appeals to the people to consider their own "Companion", the Prophet, who had been born among them and had lived with them, and was known to be an honourable, truthful, and trustworthy man. If Gabriel was the one who brought the Message to him, then there was no question of demoniacal possession. And the Prophet had seen him in his inspired vision "in the clear horizon".


81:23
[ Original ]
وَلَقَدْ رَآهُ بِالْأُفُقِ الْمُبِينِ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
And without doubt he saw him in the clear horizon.
[ Saheeh International ]
And he has already seen Gabriel in the clear horizon.
Tafseer Commentary

5991 Read along with this the whole passage in 53:1-18 and notes there; specially n. 5092, where the two occasions are mentioned when there was a vision of inspiration: "For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest" (53:18).


81:24
[ Original ]
وَمَا هُوَ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ بِضَنِينٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Neither doth he withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen.
[ Saheeh International ]
And Muhammad is not a withholder of [knowledge of] the unseen.
Tafseer Commentary

5992 Such would be the words of a soothsayer, guarded, ambiguous, and misleading. Here everything was clear, sane, true, and under divine inspiration.


81:25
[ Original ]
وَمَا هُوَ بِقَوْلِ شَيْطَانٍ رَجِيمٍ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Nor is it the word of an evil spirit accursed.
[ Saheeh International ]
And the Qur'an is not the word of a devil, expelled [from the heavens].
Tafseer Commentary

5993 Such as evil suggestions of envy, spite, greed, selfishness, or other vices. On the contrary, the teaching of the Qur'an is beneficent, pointing to the Right Way , and Way of Allah. Rajim: literally, driven away with stones, rejected with complete ignominy. Cf. 15:17. The rite of throwing stones in the valley of Mina at the close of the Makkan Pilgrimage [see n. 217 (6) to 2:197] suggests symbolically that the Pilgrim emphatically, definitely, and finally rejects all Evil.


81:26
[ Original ]
فَأَيْنَ تَذْهَبُونَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
When whither go ye?
[ Saheeh International ]
So where are you going?
Tafseer Commentary

5994 It has been shown that this is no word of a mortal, but that it is full of divine wisdom: that its teaching is not that of a madman, but sane to the core and in accordance with human needs: that it freely and clearly directs you to the right Path and forbids you the Path of evil. Why then hesitate? Accept the divine Grace; repent of your sins; and come to the higher Life.


81:27
[ Original ]
إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِلْعَالَمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
Verily this is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds:
[ Saheeh International ]
It is not except a reminder to the worlds
Tafseer Commentary

5995 It is not meant for one class or race; it is universal, and is addressed to all the Worlds. For the meaning of "Worlds", see n. 20 to 1:2.


81:28
[ Original ]
لِمَنْ شَاءَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَسْتَقِيمَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
(With profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight:
[ Saheeh International ]
For whoever wills among you to take a right course.
Tafseer Commentary

5996 Cf. 74:55-56. Allah is the Cherisher of the Worlds, Lord of Grace and Mercy, and His guidance is open to all who have the will to profit by it. But that will must be exercised in conformity with Allah's Will (verse 29). Such conformity is Islam. Verse 28 points to human free will and responsibility; verse 29 to its limitations. Both extremes, viz.: cast-iron Determination and an ides of chaotic Free Will, are condemned.


81:29
[ Original ]
وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ
[ Abdullah Yusuf Ali ]
But ye shall not will except as Allah wills,- the Cherisher of the Worlds.
[ Saheeh International ]
And you do not will except that Allah wills - Lord of the worlds.

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