English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 102: At-Takathur — The Abundance of Wealth (Revealed at Makkah: 8 verses)

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Introduction:

This chapter, which takes its title from the word Abundance in the first verse, stresses that vying with one another for wealth keeps people away from the real aim of life, and to make them realize this disasters are brought upon them to divest them of material comforts. Thus the subject-matter is connected with the previous chapters. It is one of the earliest revelations.

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Translation:

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

102:1 Abundance diverts you,
102:2 until you come to the graves.1
102:3 No indeed, you will soon know;
102:4 again, no indeed, you will soon know!
102:5 No indeed, if only you knew with a certain knowledge!2
102:6 You will certainly see hell;
102:7 then you will see it with certainty of sight;
102:8 then on that day you shall certainly be questioned about the blessings (that you wasted).3

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Commentary:

  1. Coming to the graves stands for death. The significance therefore is that vying with one another in increase of wealth diverts a man from the real object of life until he meets death.
  2. When a person dies, he then comes to know that the acquisition of wealth was in no way the real object of his life. But if he had proceeded on the basis of certain knowledge, he could have seen this in this very life.
  3. Verses 5–8 are considered as disclosing three degrees of certainty —certainty by inference, certainty by sight and certainty by realization. A person can by inference attain to a certainty of the existence of hell in this very life (verses 5 and 6); after his death he will see hell with his own eyes (v. 7); but a perfect manifestation of it will be realized by him on the day of Resurrection (v. 8). Being questioned about the blessings implies tasting of the punishment for failing to make right use of what was granted to man. But the words may also be taken as applying to this life. By pondering on the very nature of evil a man can become certain of hell, this being the certainty by inference. Then he can acquire a certain knowledge by sight, by seeing the fate of others. Lastly, he is made to realize it by disasters being brought upon himself.

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