English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 104: Al-Humazah — The Slanderer (Revealed at Makkah: 9 verses)

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Introduction:

As opposed to those spoken of in the last chapter, we have here a description of those whose aim is to amass wealth instead of doing good and who slander others instead of enjoining truth; hence the title The Slanderer from the first verse. It is one of the earliest revelations.

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Translation:

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

104:1 Woe to every slanderer, defamer,1
104:2 who amasses wealth and counts it2
104:3 he thinks that his wealth will make him abide forever.3
104:4 No indeed! He will certainly be hurled into the crushing disaster;4
104:5 and what will make you realize what the crushing disaster is?
104:6 It is the Fire kindled by Allah,
104:7 which rises over the hearts.5
104:8 Surely it is closed in on them,
104:9 in extended columns. 6

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Commentary:

  1. The slanderers and defamers are condemned here generally, with parti­cular reference to the opponents who started their persecution of the Holy Prophet by bitterly slandering and defaming him, so that the pilgrims coming to Makkah from afar should not listen to his teachings. Just as goodness and patience are combined in the previous chapter as the two qualities which are the founda­tions on which human character should be built, the amassing of wealth and defaming are combined here as the two evils which lead ultimately to disaster.
  2. It is a succinct but exact picture of the material civilization of our day.
  3. By abiding is meant abiding in prosperity, or lasting forever.
  4. The name Al-huṭamah (“crushing disaster”) is applied to hell, because it crushes everything that is cast into it. It includes both hell and other disasters which, it is prophesied, would crush the wealthy defamers of the Truth, their punish­­ment being called by this name because they wanted to crush the Truth.
  5. The Fire of hell is described as rising over the hearts, showing that it is within the heart of man that the origin of hell-fire lies. A man’s hell is thus within his own heart in this life.
  6. It is inordinate desires extending beyond all limits that give rise to extended columns of fire. Spiritually they may be witnessed in this life, but they assume a palpable shape in the next.

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