78. An-Naba (The Great Event)

Revealed in Makkah and composed of 40 verses, this sūrah takes its name from the word an-naba (The Tidings or The Great Event) in the second verse. It is concerned with the Day of Resurrection, and focuses attention on some manifestations of God’s Power in the universe.

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

1. What are they asking each other about?—

2. About the awesome tidings,

3. About which they are in disagreement.1

4. No indeed! (They have no need to disagree or question one another about it.) Soon they will come to know!

5. Again, no indeed! Soon they will come to know!

6. Have We not made the earth as a cradle,2

7. And the mountains as masts?3

8. And We have created you in pairs.

9. And We have made your sleep for rest.

10. And We have made the night as a cloak (covering both you and the world).

11. And We have made the day for seeking livelihood.

12. And We have built above you seven firm heavens.

13. And We have set up (therein) a lamp blazing and resplendent.4

14. And We send down out of the rain-clouds water in abundance,

15. So that We may produce with it grain and plants,

16. And gardens dense and luxuriant.

17. Now assuredly, the Day of Judgment and Distinction is a time appointed (as the result of all that takes place in this world):

18. The Day when the Trumpet is blown and you all come forth in hosts;5

19. And the heaven is opened (for the descent of angels), and becomes as if gates (so that the world of angels and the world of humankind join each other);

20. And the mountains are set in motion and so become as if they had never existed.

21. Surely Hell lies as a place for surveillance,

22. For the (disbelieving) rebellious, (and) a destined home (which they prepared for themselves while in the world),

23. Wherein they will remain for ages.

24. There, they will taste neither coolness nor any drink,

25. Except boiling water and pus,

26. As a recompense fitting (for their sins).

27. For they used not to expect to be called to account (for their deeds),

28. And denied Our Revelations (and Our other signs in the universe) with willful, obstinate denial.

29. And every thing (that they did), We wrote down as a record.

30. So: “Taste (the fruit of your deeds), and We will not increase you except in suffering.”

31. For the God-revering, pious there will surely be triumph:

32. Gardens and vineyards,

33. And youthful, full-breasted maidens of equal age,6

34. And a cup full to the brim.

35. They will hear therein neither vain talk nor falsehood.

36. (All this as) a reward from your Lord, a gift according to (His) reckoning in full satisfaction—7

37. The Lord of the heavens and the earth and (all) that is between them, the All-Merciful. No one will have the power to address Him.

38. On that Day, the Spirit8 and the angels stand in ranks. No one will speak except him whom the All-Merciful allows,9 and he speaks what is right.

39. That Day (of Judgment) is the Day absolutely true (on which the truth will prevail). So whoever wills, then, let him take a way of return to his Lord.

40. We have surely warned you against a punishment near at hand. On that Day, a person will look at what he has forwarded (from the world) with his own hands, and the unbeliever will say: “Oh, would that I were mere dust (instead of being a responsible being with consciousness and free will)!”

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. The disagreement of the unbelievers about the Resurrection was not about whether they denied it or not, but about their approach to the denial of it. Some of them had irreconcilable doubts about it (27: 66); some deemed it as inconceivable (23: 36); and some obstinately rejected whatever of the truth and essentials of faith they were told (67: 21). So the initial verses tell us that, when God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, conveyed to the people of Makkah some truths about the Day of Resurrection and warned them, those who were denying the truths inquired of one another in an attempt to find some argument to back up their denials; and with this interest in mind, they sometimes came to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, or the believers— and sometimes went to the Jews or Christians around them—and asked them questions. They then proceeded to discuss how they should react against these truths and offered different views.

2. The eleven verses from here to verse 17 present some manifestations of the Divine Power in the universe and, by drawing attention to them, establish the truth of the Day of Resurrection. What these verses say is that the universe— with whatever is in it and whatever event takes place— and human life, with all its aspects, clearly show that nothing is without meaning or purpose. Rather, all these things indicate another, very important fact, which is their outcome, or, indeed, their raison d’être. That is, this world is the antecedent of the other world.

3. This verse means the following, as Said Nursi explains it:

“I have made mountains like masts and stakes for your earth.” Ordinary people see mountains as if they have been driven into the ground and, thinking of the benefits and bounties thereof, thank the Creator. Poets imagine the earth as a land upon which the dome of the heaven has been pitched, in a sweeping arc, as a mighty blue tent adorned with lamps. Perceiving the mountains that surround the base of the heaven as tent pegs, they worship the Majestic Creator in amazement.

The literary people of the deserts imagine the earth as a vast desert, and its mountain chains as many nomads’ tents. They perceive these as if the soil were stretched over high posts and the pointed tips of the posts had raised the “cloth” of the soil, the home for countless creatures. They prostrate in amazement before the Majestic Creator, Who placed and set up such imposing and mighty things so easily. Geographers with a literary bent view the earth as a ship sailing in the ocean of air or ether, and the mountains as masts that give balance and stability to the ship. Before the All-Powerful One of Perfection, Who has made the earth like a well-built orderly ship on which He makes us travel through the universe, they declare: “Glory be to You! How magnificent Your creation is!”

Philosophers or historians of culture see the earth as a house, the pillar of whose life is animal life that, in turn, is supported by air, water, and soil (the conditions of life). Mountains are essential for these conditions, for they store water, purify the atmosphere by precipitating noxious gases, and preserve the ground from becoming a swamp and being overrun by the sea. Mountains also are treasuries for other necessities of human life. In perfect reverence, they praise the Maker of Majesty and Munificence, Who has made these great mountains the pillars for the earth, the house of our life, and appointed them as keepers of the treasures necessary for our life.

Naturalists say: “The earthquakes and tremors, which are due to certain underground formations and fusions, were stabilized with the emergence of mountains. This event also stabilized the axis and orbit of the earth. Thus, its annual rotation is not affected by earthquakes. Its wrath and anger is quieted by coursing through mountain vents.” They come to believe and declare: “There is wisdom in everything God does.” (The Words, “The 25th Word,” 410–411)

4. Said Nursi expounds on how the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, talks in the language of the Qur’ān of the Sovereign:

[He   is the One] “in Whose realm the moon flies round a moth like a fly, while the moth (the earth) flutters round a lamp, and the lamp (the sun) is merely one of thousands of lamps in one of thousands of guest-houses belonging to that Sovereign. He speaks of such a wonderful world and predicts such a revolution that, compared to it, if the earth were a bomb and were to explode, this would not cause amazement.

The Qur’ān mentions certain facts of creation to make known the Divine Essence, Attributes, and Names. It explains the meaning of the Book of the Universe to make known its Creator. Therefore, it considers creation for the sake of knowledge of its Creator. Modern science, which considers creation only for its own sake, usually addresses scientists. The Qur’ān, however, addresses all of humanity. Since it uses creation as evidence and proof in order to guide humanity, most of whom are common people, its evidence should be easily understandable. Guidance requires that unimportant things only be touched upon, and that subtle points be made understandable via parables.

For example, it calls the sun “a lamp.” It does not mention the sun for its own sake, but rather because it is the “mainstay” of the order and the center of our world’s system, and order and system are two ways of learning about the Creator. By depicting the sun as a lamp, it also reminds people that the world is like a palace illuminated by the sun, and that its contents (e.g., beauties, provisions, and other necessities) are prepared for humankind and other living creatures. In this way, it teaches and inspires understanding of, and the need for gratitude for, the Creator’s Mercy and Bounty” (The Words, “The 19th Word,” 250, 254–255). (Also see 25: 61, note 15.)

5. See 6: 73, note 14; 39: 68, note 22.

6. Some biased persons from other religions accuse Islam of promising a paradise full of carnal pleasures. Islam considers humans with their complete nature, not as body, carnal soul, or spirit only. Islam considers all of these and has laid down the necessary rules for each. So it neither orders monasticism nor sets human desires free. It employs human desires for human perfection. So Paradise will be a place where both the human spirit and the carnal soul (which will have been trained and purified) will be satisfied with the (pure) pleasures particular to each. In his inimitable style, Said Nursi addresses the matter thus:

Question: What does the defective, changing, unstable, and pain-stricken body have to do with eternity and Paradise? The spirit’s elevated pleasures must be enough. Why should a bodily resurrection take place for bodily pleasures?

Answer: Soil, despite its darkness and density when compared to water, air, and light, is the means and source of all works of Divine art. Therefore, it is somehow superior in meaning over other elements. Your selfhood, despite its density, and due to its being comprehensive, and provided it is purified, gains some kind of superiority over your other senses and faculties. Likewise, your body is a most comprehensive and rich mirror for the Divine Names’ manifestations, and has been equipped with instruments to weigh and measure the contents of all Divine treasuries. For example, if the tongue’s sense of taste were not the origin of as many measures as the varieties of food and drink, it could not experience, recognize, or measure them. Furthermore, your body also contains the instruments needed to experience and recognize most of the Divine Names’ manifestations, as well as the faculties for experiencing the most various and infinitely different pleasures.

The universe’s conduct and humanity’s comprehensive nature show that the Maker of the universe wants to make known all His Mercy’s treasuries and all His Names’ manifestations, and to make us experience all His bounties by means of the universe. Given this, as the world of eternal happiness is a mighty pool into which the flood of the universe flows, a vast exhibition of what the loom of the universe produces, and the everlasting store of crops produced in the field of this (material) world, it will resemble the universe to some degree. The All-Wise Maker, the All-Compassionate Just One, will give pleasures particular to each bodily organ as wages for their duty, service, and worship. To think otherwise would be contrary to His Wisdom, Justice, and Compassion.

Question: A living body is in a state of formation and de-formation, and so is subject to disintegration and is non-eternal. Eating and drinking perpetuate the individual; sexual relations perpetuate the species. These are fundamental to life in this world but must be irrelevant and unnecessary in the world of eternity. Given this, why have they been included among Paradise’s greatest pleasures?

Answer: A living body declines and dies because the balance between what it needs to maintain and takes in is disturbed. From childhood until the age of physical maturity, it takes in more than it lets out and grows healthier. Afterwards, it usually cannot meet its needs in a balanced way, and death comes in. In the world of eternity, however, the body’s particles remain constant and are immune to disintegration and re-formation. In other words, this balance remains constant.

Like moving in perpetual cycles, a living body gains eternity together with the constant operation of the factory of bodily life for pleasure. In this world, eating, drinking, and marital sexual relations arise from a need and perform a function. Thus, a great variety of excellent (and superior) pleasures are ingrained in them as immediate wages for the functions performed. In this world of ailments, eating and marriage lead to many wonderful and various pleasures. Thus Paradise, the realm of perfect happiness and pleasure, must contain these pleasures in their most elevated form. Adding to them otherworldly wages (as pleasures) for the duties performed in the world by them, and the need felt for them here in the form of a pleasant and otherworldly appetite, they will be transformed into an all-encompassing, living source of pleasure that is appropriate to Paradise and eternity. (The Words, “The 28th Word,” 515–517)

(For other explanations of blessings of Paradise, see sūrah 2: 25, note 21; sūrah 73: 13, note 2; and for equality of age, see sūrah 56: 37, note 6.

7. The punishment for rebellious unbelievers will be a recompense fitting and in accordance with their sins (verses 22, 26, 30), but the reward for the God-revering, pious, will be according to God’s reckoning out of His Grace and to their full satisfaction.

8. On the Spirit, see sūrah  70, note 1.

9. This statement also annotates the second sentence in the previous verse: No one will have the power to address Him.

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