77. Al-Mursalaat (The Sent Forth)
Revealed in the early years of the Makkan period of the mission of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, this sūrah of 50 verses takes its name from the word Al-Mursalaat or al-mursalāt (The Sent Forth or The Companies Sent) in the first verse. It mentions the functions of some classes of angels in certain universal events, focusing attention on the Power of God, the truth of the Resurrection and the afterlife, and warning against the denial of this truth.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. By the companies (of angels) sent one after another for some good results,
2. And then moving as fast and forcefully as tempests;
3. And by those enfolding the Scrolls of Revelation,
4. And serving (for right and wrong) to be separated with all clarity,
5. And so bringing down the Revelation,
6. In order that some may have the means to ask for forgiveness and that some may be warned—
7. Surely what you are promised is bound to take place:1
8. When the stars are effaced,
9. And when the sky is rent asunder,
10. And when the mountains are blown away (as dust),
11. And when the time for the Messengers (to bear witness for or against their communities) is appointed.
12. For what day has the term (of all this) been set?
13. For the Day of Judgment and Distinction (between people, according to how they believed and acted in the world).
14. What enables you to perceive what the Day of Judgment and Distinction is?
15. Woe on that Day to those who deny (the Day)!
16. Did We not destroy the ancient peoples (who denied)?
17. So do We make the later generations (of the same standing) follow them (in being destroyed).
18. For thus do We deal with the disbelieving criminals.
19. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
20. (How and why do you dare to deny?) Did We not create you from a humble fluid?
21. Then We placed it in a firm, secure place (to remain),
22. For a known, pre-ordained term (of gestation).
23. Thus have We determined (everything related to your existence): how excellent We are in determining!
24. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
25. Have We not made the earth a receptacle,
26. Both for the living and the dead?
27. And We have set therein mountains firm, lofty in stature, and given you to drink the sweet water (gushing out of them).
28. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
29. “Move towards that (Fire) which you used to deny!
30. “Move towards the shadow (of black smoke ascending), in three columns.2
31. It will neither give (cooling) shade, nor will it be of any avail against the flame.
32. It (the Fire) will throw out sparks like castles,
33. (Scattered abroad) as if they were yellow camels.3
34. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
35. This will be a Day when they (the deniers) will not utter a word;
36. Nor will they be allowed to offer excuses.4
37. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
38. “This is the Day of Judgment and Distinction (between people, according to how they believed and acted in the world). We have assembled you and the earlier ones (from earlier communities who were also deniers).
39. “So if you have a scheme (to save yourselves from My punishment), then apply it (against Me)!”
40. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
41. Surely the God-revering, pious, will be amidst pleasant shade and springs,
42. And fruit of whatever kinds they desire.
43. “Eat and drink to your hearts’ content for all that you used to do (in the world).”
44. Thus do We reward those who are devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing them.
45. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
46. Consume (the riches of the world) and enjoy your life but for a little while, for you are criminals, committed to accumulating sin!
47. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
48. When they are told, “Bow down (before God in humility and worship Him)!” they do not bow down.
49. Woe on that Day to those who deny!
50. In what other Word, beyond this (Qur’ān), will they believe?
1. Angels have very important functions or duties in both our lives and the operation of the universe around them. The Qur’ān mentions the angels with the duties they fulfill and in the groups that fulfill those duties. For example, see 37: 1–3; 79: 1–5. However, we usually live unaware of either them and their universal duties. In these initial verses, God focuses our attention on them, particularly those of them conveying the Revelation to the Messengers, thus playing a role in the separation of right from wrong, and the separation of those who serve right from those who serve wrong. God concludes the oaths He makes by those angels by emphasizing that the Day of Resurrection will most certainly come.
2. It is worth attention that the smoke of Hellfire will ascend in three columns. This becomes more meaningful when we consider that the Qur’ān uses light in singular and darkness in plural as depths or veils of darkness (in Arabic, the smallest number of the plural form is three). This may be an indication to the fact that in history, the association of partners with God and systems of oppression have usually been based on three “columns.” While describing the deeds of unbelievers, the Qur’ān says, that their deeds are like veils of darkness covering up an abysmal sea down into its depths, covered up by a billow, above which is a billow, above which is a cloud: veils of darkness piled one upon another so that when he stretches out his hand, he can hardly see it (24: 40). It may also allude to the result of misuse of the three cardinal faculties given to humans— namely intellect, anger, and lust; or to the three powers upon which a government is based— namely execution, judgment, and legislation; or, from another perspective, power, capital, and knowledge or education; or, power, justice, and law (see 57: 25, note 15). For example, the Qur’ān says that the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, was sent to the Pharaoh, Qorah and Hāmān (29: 39; 40: 24). This must be one of the reasons for, as an instance of wisdom, the fact that during the Hajj, the pilgrims throw stones at three “devils” arranged in columns (the major, the middle, and the minor).
3. The sparks of Hellfire being as big as, or being likened to, castles and camels may be an allusion to the worldly things that those condemned to Hellfire love passionately. What is most valuable for desert people is the camel; while those who live in towns lost in pleasures are addicted to having lofty castles.
4. According to several verses, the people condemned to Hell will utter words of different import. For example, from Hell, they will address God and the believers in Paradise (23: 105–106), and they will address the chief guard of Hell (Mālik) (43: 77); on their way to Hell, they will also address the believers in order to try to get some of their light (57: 13–14); they will reproach themselves in the Place of Supreme Gathering (36: 52; 37: 20); they will dispute among themselves (34: 31–33); etc. So it can be concluded that everything will not take place in the same strain on the Day of Judgment. It will be a Day during which there will be many other “days”; thus, this verse mentions one of the scenes of the other world where the unbelievers will not utter a word, nor be allowed to offer excuses.