Sūrah al-ʿĀdiyāt and Sūrah al-Qāriʿah

These two Sūrahs continue the theme of warnings about the Last Day. The topic remains the same; mankind is warned that this life will end and we will have to answer to Allah for how we spent it. These Sūrahs should build in our hearts a fear of the Last Day and a sense of accountability for our lives. Anyone who reflects on these descriptions of the Last Day should emerge transformed and reformed.

Scholars differ regarding whether Sūrah al-ʿĀdiyāt is a late Makkan or early Madinan Sūrah. The majority of categorize it as Makkan. Its content leans both ways, the oath on war horses seems more in line with the Madinan theme of Jihād, while its focus on the Last Day is a Makkan theme. It is possible that it was revealed towards the end of the Makkan phase, as one of the last few warnings to the Quraysh about the Last Day, as well as a hint at the war that would soon occur between the two nations. Allah knows best.

Sūrah al-Qāriʿah is a Makkan Sūrah by consensus. Scholars differ over its number of verses, but agree that it was revealed during the Makkan Era. Its content is clearly Makkan in nature, focusing on short powerful imagery and warning about the Last Day. A unique focus of this Sūrah is on the concept of the weighing of the scales on the Last Day.

The Image of the War Horses

Sūrah al-ʿĀdiyāt begins with a detailed description of war horses and their galloping into the battlefield. Allah takes an oath on these horses, before mentioning the two main points of this Sūrah, the ingratitude and materialistic nature of mankind. There are many possible reasons why war horses are the focus of this oath.

It could be because the Arabs were familiar with war horses, their usage, their loyalty and their courage. So Allah draws a parable that they can understand. Horses are courageous and loyal to their masters. While the Quraysh were being cowardly, and ungrateful to their Creator. The detailed image of the war horse could be to draw this parable in the mind of the disbeliever, so that they may reflect.

An alternative interpretation is that this was a warning of things to come. The passive resistance era of early Islam was ending. Soon the migration would take place, Allah would reveal the permission to fight back, and the Jihād against Makkah would begin. This oath could have been a warning of things to come; if you do not prioritize the Afterlife then prepare for war in this life. This may have been the message to the Quraysh in these verses, and Allah knows best.

The Weaknesses of Man

This oath is followed by the core message of this Sūrah, mankind is ungrateful and materialistic. These two qualities cause humanity to reject the truth, ignore the Afterlife and indulge in this world. The Quraysh were ungrateful to Allah for all His Blessings upon them. This theme is raised again in later Sūrahs. They were also worried that they would lose their financial privileges if they embraced Islam.

These two qualities are found even among Muslims today. Complaining has become a hobby for many people, even when they live lives of privilege and luxury. People are always looking for the smallest thing to complain about, inventing all kinds of new grievances in the process. Ingratitude is linked to disbelief in Islam to such an extent that the Arabic word for both is actually the same; Kufr.

But ingratitude is not the only thing causing Muslims to stray. Materialism and Capitalism have made Muslims extremely greedy. In our greed, we have thrown out the Fiqh of Business, and embraced every prohibited transaction. Money has become the new god, and our craving for wealth never seems to end. In order to return to righteousness, we need to break away from these two negative emotions. Ingratitude needs to be replaced with gratitude, and materialism needs to be replaced with Zuhd (asceticism).

The Sūrah ends with a strong warning to those who are distracted by ingratitude and greed. This world will end, we will answer for how we lived our lives, and our Lord knows everything that we have done. There is no escaping the reality of the Afterlife. The wise believer spends their life in gratitude and worship, knowing well that this world will end and preparing for the Afterlife is the priority.

The Scales of Justice

Sūrah al-Qāriʿah begins with a powerful image of the end of the world. Loud noises, crumbling mountains and people scattered like moths. This image is meant to create awe and fear of the Last Day in the hearts of the believers. The image builds a picture of mass panic among humanity on that day.

After building up this image and drawing the attention of the listener through it, Allah then informs us of the central theme of this Sūrah. On that day, our deeds will be weighed on a scale. Whoever’s good deeds outweigh their bad deeds will have a happy life in eternal bliss. But whoever finds their scale of good deeds light may find himself in the abyss of Hell.

Although the Sūrah ends on a point of fear and dread, there is much hope we can gain from this concept. The weighing of the scales is not done equally. While every sin will equal to one sin on the scale, a good deed is multiplied between ten and seven hundred times on the scale. Some good deeds like pure monotheism, fasting and patience will be even heavier on that day.

Knowing this, how does a person end up with a light scale on that day? The answer lies in the previous and following Sūrahs, both of which highlight the materialistic nature on man. People are so caught up in chasing this world that they fail to build up even a small record of good deeds. When Allah has made the weighing of the scales tilted in our favor, who can we blame besides ourselves if we end up with a light scale on that day?  

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.

2 comments

[…] Sūrah al-ʿĀdiyāt and Sūrah al-Qāriʿah […]

Sadaf Khurshid

jazakAllah ho khaira .

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