English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 78: An-Naba — The Announcement (Revealed at Makkah: 2 sections, 40 verses)

Section 1 (Verses 78:1–78:30): The Day of Decision

Translation:

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

Part 3078:1 About what do they ask one another?
78:2 About the tremendous announcement
78:3 concerning which they differ.1
78:4 No, they will soon know;
78:5 no, again, they will soon know.
78:6 Have We not made the earth an expanse
78:7 and the mountains as pegs?
78:8 And We have created you in pairs,
78:9 and made your sleep for rest,
78:10 and made the night a covering,
78:11 and made the day for seeking livelihood.
78:12 And We have made above you seven strong (bodies),
78:13 and made a shining lamp,2
78:14 and We send down from the clouds water pouring forth in abundance,
78:15 that We may bring forth with it grain and vegetation,
78:16 and luxuriant gardens.
78:17 Surely the day of Decision is appointed3
78:18 the day when the trumpet is blown, so you come forth in companies,
78:19 and the heaven is opened so it becomes as doors,
78:20 and the mountains are moved off, so they remain a (mere) semblance.4
78:21 Surely hell lies in wait,
78:22 a destination for the inordinate,
78:23 living in it for long years.5
78:24 They do not taste therein coolness nor drink,
78:25 but boiling and intensely cold water,
78:26 a recompense corresponding.6
78:27 Surely they did not fear the reckoning,
78:28 and rejected Our messages, denying (them).
78:29 And We have recorded everything in a book,
78:30 so taste, for We shall add to you nothing but punishment.7

Commentary:

  1. Some commentators take the “tremendous announcement” to signify the Quran, others the prophethood of Muhammad and still others the day of Resurrection. In fact, all three are included. The Quran was revealed as the greatest of the Divine messages hitherto given to humanity, because it was a message for the whole of humanity, compared with the smaller messages to this or that nation. It was, moreover, the most complete message. It gave the great news that the whole of humanity would receive life through it. They differed about it not only in the sense that they rejected it, but also because they put in different sugges­tions, some saying that the Prophet was a madman, others that he was a dreamer, others still that he was a poet or a fabricator, and so on.
  2. The seven strong bodies of v. 12 are apparently the seven major planets of the solar system, the words above you clearly showing that the earth itself belongs to the same class, and the sun, the centre of the solar system, is spo­ken of in the words a shining lamp.
  3. That there is a day of Decision in this life too, which is synonymous with the ultimate triumph of Truth and the doom of opposition to its spread, is amply clear from all these early chapters.
  4. The description contained in verses 18–20 is a prophetical description of the final triumph of Truth. People will come forth in companies to accept the Truth (see ch. 110: “when the help of Allah and victory comes and you see people entering the religion of Allah in companies”); the heaven is opened and the dead earth receives life (v. 19); the mountains — the great opposing forces — melt away, and all that remains of opposition is a mere semblance.
  5. The use of the word aḥqāb (long years), which signifies a limited period, leaves no doubt that the punishment of hell is not eternal. Such words are never used regarding the bliss of heavenly life, which is a clear indication that the latter will never come to an end, while the former shall; see 11:107 footnote.
  6. The punishment of hell is described here as a recompense correspond­ing to the sin. Various names are given to hell itself, and various sorts of punish­ment are spoken of. Thus every sinner has his own hell, corresponding to his sin.
  7. As they in their inordinacy added evil to evil, they shall have corres­pond­ingly punishment added to punishment. The addition in punishment lasts only until the evil is requited.

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