73. Al-Muzzammil (The Wrapped Up)
This sūrah of 20 verses, one of the earliest revealed in Makkah, takes its name from the word Al-Muzzammil (the enwrapped one or The Wrapped Up) in the first verse. However, there are many reliable reports that its last verse was revealed in Madīnah. It strongly advises prayer at night, patience, and reliance upon God. It warns the unbelievers against the Day of Judgment.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. O you enwrapped one, (under the heavy responsibility of Messengership)!1
2. Rise to keep vigil at night, except a little:
3. Half of it, or lessen it a little—
4. Or add to it (a little). And pray and recite the Qur’ān calmly and distinctly (with your mind and heart concentrated on it).
5. We will surely charge you with a weighty Word (and with applying it in your daily life, and conveying it to others).
6. Rising and praying at night impresses (mind and heart) most strongly and (makes) recitation more certain and upright.
7. For by day you have extended preoccupations.
8. And keep in remembrance the Name of your Lord (and mention It in your Prayer), and devote yourself to Him whole-heartedly:
9. The Lord of the east and the Lord of the west. There is no deity but He, so take Him alone for one to rely on and to entrust your affairs to.
10. And endure patiently all that they say (against you), and stay aloof from their way (and part from them) in a becoming manner (not as they treat you— rather with forbearance and good advice).
11. And leave Me alone to deal with those who enjoy God’s worldly blessings and yet obstinately persist in denying (Our Revelations), and grant them respite for a little while.
12. We have (in store for the likes of them) heavy fetters and a Blazing Flame,
13. And food that chokes, and a painful punishment.2
14. On that Day, the earth and the mountains will be violently shaken, and the mountains will be as a heap of slipping sand.
15. Surely We have sent to you (O people) a Messenger, a witness against you (one who will testify in the Hereafter as to your deeds in response to God’s Message), just as We sent a Messenger to the Pharaoh.
16. But the Pharaoh rebelled against the Messenger, and so We seized him with a calamitous grasp.
17. Then how will you, if you persist in unbelief, guard yourselves against a Day which will turn the children gray-headed?
18. The sky will cleft open thereby. His promise (of Resurrection and Judgment) is certainly to be fulfilled.
19. This is a reminder and admonition, and so let him, who wills, take a path to his Lord.
20. Surely your Lord knows that you (O Messenger) rise and keep vigil sometimes nearly two-thirds of the night or (other times) a half of it or a third of it, and so do some of those who are in your company as believers. God determines the measure of the night and day (which He has created). He knows that you (O believers) are unable to sustain (such long vigils every night) and He has turned to you in mercy: so recite (when you do the Prayer) from the Qur’ān what is easy for you (to sustain as regular practice). He knows that there will be among you those who are sick, and others going about the land seeking of God’s bounty, and still others fighting in God’s cause. Recite from it, then, as much as is easy (for you).3 But establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions as prescribed, pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms (the Zakāh), and lend God a good loan (by spending in His cause and for the needy). Whatever of good you forward (to your future, eternal life) for your own selves, you will find it with God, better and greater in reward (than all that you have left behind in the world, and much increased in value). And seek God’s forgiveness (in all circumstances and eventualities).4 God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate (especially toward His believing, penitent servants).
1. This address is directed to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. When this verse was revealed, he was lying down in his house enwrapped in his cloak or blanket. Although the verse expressed a physical reality, the figurative meaning it attached to that reality is more significant. That is, the Messenger greatly suffered because of the deviations of his people, and fully felt the overwhelming responsibility of his mission. So, the verse implies the responsibility with which he was charged.
2. Concerning the kinds of torment in the Hereafter mentioned in the last two verses, Fakhru’d-Dīn ar-Rāzī says: “These four kinds of torment can well be interpreted as spiritual torments. Fetters symbolize the carnal soul’s remaining shackled to its physical attachments and bodily pleasures. Since the carnal soul has acquired acquaintance with such pleasures and loved them in the world, when it departs from the body, it increases in agonies and worries, and its former acquaintance with, and attachment to, these become obstacles preventing it from entering the realm of peace and purity. Then those spiritual shackles generate spiritual fires, burning to the degree that the carnal soul was inclined towards such pleasures, along with the impossibility of attaining them; all this gives rise to a sensation of spiritual burning. This is the second step in the torment, which the verse describes as ‘a blazing flame.’ Then the carnal soul tries to swallow the choking agonies of deprivation and the pangs of separation (from the objects of its worldly enjoyment). This is the ‘food that chokes.’ And, finally, it remains deprived of being illuminated by the Divine light and joining the community of the blessed ones. This is the greatest torment and is depicted as the ‘painful punishment.’ But these explanations of mine should not be misunderstood. I do not mean that the meaning of these verses is restricted to what I have stated. Rather, I mean that these verses mention four steps of torment in the Hereafter which will be suffered both spiritually and physically.”
It is a fact that both the blessings the people of Paradise will enjoy and the torments the people of Hell will suffer will be the consequences of their faith and deeds in the world. But they are not restricted to spiritual torment. Where the human self or soul (nafs) exists, things are not only spiritual. When we consider that even in the world it is the human soul which suffers from what happens to the body, not the body itself, we can easily understand that the pleasure and torment in the Hereafter cannot be thought of as being only spiritual. But we cannot know the exact nature of physical or bodily existence there.
3. The Night Prayer (as–Salāt at-Tahajjud) was enjoined on the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, in the early years of his Messengership. He kept such long vigils that his feet swelled up. Some of the believers followed him in keeping long vigils, although it was not obligatory upon them. But it was difficult for them to pray for two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or even one-third of the night; and so, in Madīnah, God eased this burden. Although the Tahajjud Prayer is not obligatory upon Muslims, it is a highly recommended Prayer. It is sometimes said that those who have dedicated themselves to God’s cause should observe it.
4. This verse draws attention to, and emphasizes the importance of, observing the prescribed commandments of Islam. Due observance of these may compensate for the loss that is caused by some faults or minor sins, and the faults that come from negligence in the recommended religious acts. The verse sūrah 58: 13, Is it that you are afraid of offering something in charity before your consultation (with him)? (If so) and you have not done it, and God has turned to you in forgiveness, then establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and pay the Prescribed Purifying Alms, and obey God and His Messenger. God is fully aware of all that you do, is of the same import. And as pointed out in sūrah 71, note: 3, asking for God’s forgiveness is a door that opens on almost every blessing of God. As we are fallible in nature, we should always seek His forgiveness.