In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
- The calamity!
- What is the calamity?
- And what will make thee know how terrible is the calamity?
- The day wherein men will be as scattered moths,
- And the mountains will be as carded wool.
- Then as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is heavy,
- He will live a pleasant life.
- And for him whose measure (of good deeds) is light,
- The abyss is a mother for him.
- And what will make thee know what it is?
- A burning Fire.
This chapter was revealed at Makkah.
The plight the non-believers was going to suffer after the triumph
of the great revolution caused through Islam, a revolution that
was mentioned in chapter 99, Al-Zilzal (The Shaking), and
the directions for the struggle to attain which were given in chapter
Al-'Adiyat, has been portrayed in this chapter, Al-Qariah
(The Calamity). What has been portrayed in this chapter is the
sad debacle that would overtake the non-believers at that time:
they would be like the moths who burnt their wings by attacking
the torch of Islam, and who were then crawling on the ground because
of their disgrace, weakness and helplessness. Says Allah, Most High:
1-3. The calamity!
What is the calamity?
And what will make thee know how terrible is the calamity?
This is a type of address that is intended to show great emphasis
and to highlight the importance of an affair. The root meaning of
Al-Qariah is something that knocks, and idiomatically,
it is used for a severe calamity, or is also applied to a battle.
The Day of Resurrection is also called Al-Qariah. It
has also been stated earlier that there are many names that have
been given to the Day of Resurrection. For instance, Al-Qiyamah
(The Resurrection), Al-Akhirah (The End), As-Saah
(The Hour), Al-Haqqah (The Sure Truth), At-Tammah
(The Calamity), As-Sakhatah (The Sudden Cry), Al-Azifah
(The Near Event), Al-Qariah (The Calamity), etc. The
name used in a particular situation carries a special significance
of that name. The intention is to highlight a particular sign of
the Day of Resurrection to which the dictionary meaning of the word
used alludes. Here, also, the name Al Qariah has been
used for the Day of Resurrection, but here, there is a special significance
to it, and that is, we should not consider that day, the Day of
Resurrection, when a great upheaval shall overtake the world and
the good shall be recompensed with goodness and the evil with evil,
as being far off; the day is close by, knocking at our door. The
fact is that when a thing is knocking at the door, no doubt remains
about its existence and its nearness. The meaning is that a sample
of such an upheaval is about to come before the people in the lifetime
of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sas) when the virtuous will
be honoured and the evil disgraced. Hence, the final Day of Resurrection
is not far off. Nay, it is knocking at the door and a small picture
of this major resurrection is about to be unfolded, an upheaval
in which the opponents and the non-believers will be humiliated,
and this abasement is portrayed thus:
4-5. The day wherein men will be as scattered moths,
And the mountains will be as carded wool.
Only Allah, Most High, has complete knowledge of the special glory
in which the scenario of the final Day of Resurrection will unfold,
but the minor upheaval that has been alluded to above was going
to manifest itself shortly. Indeed, the grand manner in which this
upheaval took place in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet Muhammad
(sas) leaves no room for any doubt and suspicion about the
final Day of Resurrection.
Allah, Most High, says: The wings of those who are attacking the
light of the torch of Islam will be burnt off by this Divine torch
just as the wings of the moths are burnt by worldly lamps and they
are seen crawling around on the ground in a state of great weakness,
frailty, disgrace and helplessness.
Let those who are the subject of the verse: They desire to extinguish
the Light of Allah with their mouths but Allah is going to perfect
His light though the unbelievers might be averse (61:8), learn
that by attacking this light nothing will happen to it. What will
happen is that their wings all means and powers by relying
on which they are opposing Islam will be burnt, and the outcome
will be that they will reach such a state of disgrace, helplessness,
weakness and forlornness, like the wingless moths crawling on the
ground, that anyone who so desires can easily crush them under his
feet. And let them know that all the mountains of difficulties that
are obstacles in the path of Islam's progress will fly off like
carded wool. The chieftains of Arabia used to refer to themselves
as jibal (hills) and the idea was to proclaim their own greatness
and importance. The meaning here, also, is that all the major personalities
and leaders of the non-believers will be so completely destroyed
and wiped out as if they were wool that has been scattered by carding.
In short, a very fine sketch of the disgrace, helplessness and
destruction that was about to overtake the non-believers in the
coming grand upheaval has been portrayed, an upheaval that was knocking
at their doors. And the later events put a stamp on the truthfulness
of this prophecy, word for word.
In fact, this sorry plight of the non-believers was displayed to
the world exactly as prophesied in the very lifetime of the Holy
Prophet Muhammad (sas) and the virtuous were so clearly rewarded
with a goodly reward, and the evil ones with an evil recompense,
that no room for doubt or suspicion remained concerning the law
of just returns for one's deeds.
6-11. Then as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is heavy,
He will live a pleasant life.
And for him whose measure (of good deeds) is light,
The abyss is a mother for him.
And what will make thee know what it is?
A burning Fire.
After having argued thus for the certainty of the Day of Resurrection,
Allah, Most High, now admonishes us that we should be careful of
the outcome of our deeds, for in this lies the bliss and happiness,
or torment and grief, of the next life. The increase in the weight
of the good deeds will bring about a life of bliss, and the increase
in the weight of evil deeds will bring about a life of distress
and torment. That is, if the good deeds of a person outweigh the
evil deeds, in other words, if the good part dominates the evil
part, his coming life will be a life of bliss which is called the
Garden or Paradise. In other words, what is paradise but a life
of happiness and bliss that will be vouchsafed to man in the Hereafter?
And it will be the outcome of good deeds, but on the condition that
the good deeds should outweigh the evil deeds and the good should
dominate the evil part.
Unfortunately, our religious scholars have taken the weight of
the deeds to be like the weight of something solid, like wood, and
have painted a strange picture as if a big scale, like the one on
which fuel-wood is weighed, will be set up on the Day of Resurrection,
although it is plain common-sense that the type of balance used
is always pertinent to the thing that is weighed: for weighing heavy
things we use a scale; for gold and silver a balance; for finding
out the weight of water a different method of calculation is used;
for measuring air pressure we use a barometer, which is quite another
type of measuring instrument, and for measuring the temperature
there is another instrument called the thermometer. For electricity
measurements we use the voltmeter etc. which, again, is a distinct
type of instrument, and the reckoning and totalling of the sums
in mathematics take on quite another form.
So, it is obvious that for deeds, which are not solid, the balance
used for measuring these certainly cannot be like the balance used
for material things. Rather, the method of assessing their worth
will be quite distinct and appropriate, the detailed knowledge of
which is no doubt with Allah, Most High. The weighing of deeds is
something certain and essential because the bliss or grief of the
next life depends upon it, but to consider it something akin to
the weighing scale used for fuel-wood is a mistake. Only Allah,
Most High, can know its specifics, but from the Hadith it
seems to be something like a numerical and mathematical computation.
As the Holy Prophet (sas) says: "Most unfortunate is
the person whose units exceed his tens." In other words, the
evil deeds a man does are written down in ones and his good deeds
are written in tens. In fact, the Holy Quran says:
Whoever brings a good deed will have tenfold like it,
and whoever brings an evil deed shall be recompensed only with a
like of it (6:161).
So, a misdeed of a man is written down as one and his good deed
is written down tenfold. Therefore, if someone's misdeeds should
outnumber his good deeds, that is, the weight of the evil deeds
outweighs the weight of the good deeds, who could be more unfortunate
than such a person?
In the case of a person whose good deeds are lighter than the evil
deeds, that is, the evil part dominating the good part, the abode
of such a person shall be the hawiyah (abyss). The word hawiyah
is applied to a fathomless pit and the significance here is hell.
In naming it hawiyah, there is a special hint in view which
is that the root word of hawiyah is hawa, which means
carnal desires, or paying no heed to one's reasoning and intellectual
faculties. Thus, the allusion here is to the fact that the abode
of the hawiyah is the result of one's indulging in hawa-o-hawas
(lust and sensuality). This abyss has no bottom as the lust and
sensuality of man have no end, and his sense and reason desert him
during an arousal of passion. For instance, a man may commit such
indecent and disgusting things during a bout of covetousness or
sexual arousal, or anger or jealousy, that afterwards, when he regains
his senses he feels ashamed when he remembers them. This pit, so
to say, has no bottom and one continues to fall into it endlessly.
Thus, as there is no end to the depth of the abyss called hawiyah,
so, too, there is no end to the lust and covetousness of man. Calling
it an umm (mother) is for the reason that just as a mother
takes her baby in her arms, so will this abyss take the person into
its embrace. In this world, a man is wont to play happily in the
arms of lust and covetousness, day and night, like a baby in its
mother's arms, so at the time of reckoning if the same pit of lust
and covetousness is seen embracing the man like a mother, it will
be entirely according to the demands of just requital for one's
actions. On the Day of Resurrection, the actual reality of the lap
of the so-called mother will become apparent.
What is the hawiyah, which a man considered as his mother's
lap in his worldly life and kept on with his merrymaking? It is
nothing but a flaming fire, a fire of desires and passions and sensuality
and covetousness. Anyone who falls into this fire in this world
keeps sinking down and down and never enjoys the coolness of tranquillity
nor peace of mind and satisfaction, so, if in the Hereafter a man
finds himself in the lap of fire, it is nothing to be surprised
at. The only difference is one of perception: in the Hereafter the
perception shall be very sharp and incisive.
The word ummuhu (his mother) contains the subtle allusion
also that though it is a pit of fire, and the lap is a lap of fire,
yet, just as a mother always remains a well-wisher of her baby,
though for his reformation she may have to beat him at times, similarly,
the purpose underlying the burning by fire is also the reformation
of man. No doubt he will be undergoing burning by the fire of desires
which he, himself, lit, but the purpose will be that the virus of
sensuality and covetousness should be killed and the dirt of desires
and passions be burnt to ashes, and so that this fire, lighted by
the man, himself, should be extinguished forever after burning off
all the evil emotional impulses, so that he might find deliverance
from chastisement. If the firewood for lighting a fire is burnt
out, then no fire can be lit. Similarly, when those passions and
desires that have been the cause of intensifying the fire feel the
burning pain of fire and undergo chastisement then they shall be
In this world also, when a man gets punished for his wrongdoing,
he often comes to his senses and regrets his misdeeds and repents.
But since the various punishments of this world do not have the
full reformation of the culprit in view, it is quite possible that
a man may not be reformed by them. But the chastisement of the Hereafter,
because of its comprehensive reforming character, will bring about
a full reformation. Like fire, it will burn off every motive for
evil and this is the purpose of hell, to burn off all motives for
evil in man so that he will be thoroughly reformed.