English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 101: Al-Qariah — The Calamity (Revealed at Makkah: 11 verses)

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Introduction:

The repelling Calamity of this chapter, which gives it its title, is the same as the shaking of ch. 99. The date of revelation is also about the same.

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Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

101:1 The calamity!
101:2 What is the calamity?
101:3 And what will make you know how terrible is the calamity?1
101:4 The day when people will be as scattered moths,
101:5 and the mountains will be as flakes of wool.2
101:6 Then as for him whose good deeds are heavy,
101:7 he will live a pleasant life.
101:8 And as for him whose good deeds are light,
101:9 the abyss is a mother to him.3
101:10 And what will make you know what that is?
101:11 A burning Fire.

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Commentary:

  1. Al-Qāri‘ah signifies a very great calamity, and the word occurs without al (“the”) in 13:31: “And as for those who disbelieve, disaster (qāri‘ah) will not cease to afflict them … until the promise of Allah come to pass”. This shows that the word signifies one of those great calamities which befell the Quraish from time to time, and al is added to indicate that it is the promised calamity. In 69:4, al-qāri‘ah signifies the great calamity which destroys a nation, i.e., their doom. Al-qāri‘ah is also a name of the day of Resurrection or of the great Calamity which will destroy this earth, after which comes the Resurrection.
  2. This description may also apply to the doom of the opponents of Truth.
  3. A place of habitation or abode is also called umm (“mother”), because it grants protection to a person, as does the mother to a babe. The abyss, or hell, is here called a mother to indicate that man’s connection with hell is similar to that of a baby with its mother, namely, that his abode there fits him for progress in the spiritual world — he being brought up, as it were, in the bosom of hell, as a child is brought up in the bosom of its mother, and that his stay in hell is only for a time, as the child draws nourishment from his mother only for a time.

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