English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 84: Al-Inshiqaq — The Bursting Apart (Revealed at Makkah: 25 verses)

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Introduction:

This chapter receives its title from the bursting apart of the heaven or the cloud mentioned in the first verse. The subject-matter is similar to that of the previous chapter. It is one of the earliest revelations.

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Translation:

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

84:1 When the heaven bursts apart,1
84:2 and listens to its Lord and is made fit;2
84:3 and when the earth is stretched,3
84:4 and casts forth what is in it and becomes empty,
84:5 and listens to its Lord and is made fit.
84:6 O man, you must strive a hard striving (to attain) to your Lord, until you meet Him.4
84:7 Then as to him who is given his book in his right hand,
84:8 his account will be taken by an easy reckoning,
84:9 and he will go back to his people rejoicing.
84:10 And as to him who is given his book behind his back,
84:11 he will call for (his own) destruction,
84:12 and enter into burning Fire.
84:13 Surely he was (formerly) joyful among his people.
84:14 Surely he thought that he would never return (to Allah) —
84:15 Indeed! surely his Lord is ever Seer of him.
84:16 But no, I call to witness the sunset redness,
84:17 and the night and what it drives away,
84:18 and the moon when it grows full,5
84:19 that you shall certainly ascend to one state after another.6
84:20 But what is the matter with them that they do not believe?
84:21 And, when the Quran is recited to them, they do not adore (Him)?Prostration
84:22 No, those who disbelieve reject (it) —
84:23 and Allah knows best what they hide.
84:24 So announce to them a painful punishment,
84:25 except those who believe and do good — for them is a reward never to be cut off.

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Commentary:

  1. Verses 1–5 speak of an ordinary phenomenon of nature, namely, the coming down of rain and the growth of vegetation, as a reference to the trans­formation which was to be brought about by the Divine revelation. The bursting apart of heaven here stands for the coming down of rain; compare 25:25: “And on the day when the heaven bursts apart with clouds”.
  2. By the cloud or heaven listening to its Lord, and the earth listening to its Lord in v. 5, is meant their obedience to His commandment. In both cases it is added that they are made fit for listening to and obeying the Divine command­ments, meaning that it is their very nature to be entirely submissive to the Divine commandments.
  3. The stretching of the earth signifies the same as its stirring and swelling in 22:5 and 41:39. The meaning is the producing of vegetation, and the expression here, as in those verses, signifies metaphorically that Divine revelation gives spiritual life to man. The meaning of the earth being stretched is explained in the next verse: it casts forth what is in it and becomes empty, i.e., the treasures of life latent within it are brought to light by the coming down of rain.
  4. This is the conclusion to which a consideration of the first five verses leads. Man must strive hard to attain to his Lord. Those who do this are ultimately joyful (v. 9), but those who give themselves up to the pleasures of this life (v. 13) shall afterwards be in a sad plight (v. 11).
  5. Verses 16–18 draw attention to another phenomenon of nature, there­by indicating the departure of the power of the opponents of Truth. The sunset redness stands here for the disappearing sun of the power of the opponents, the night of adversity, which was now to overtake them, driving before it what vestige of light had remained. But they were not to remain submerged in darkness forever, for the moon (the Holy Prophet) had already made its appearance and would soon grow full, when the Arab nation was to march forth to conquer the world, the moon being a symbol of the power of the Arabs. For an alternative significance, see next note.
  6. This verse can be taken to speak of the advancement of the cause of the Prophet (Bukhari, 65.84:2). The people addressed here are thus the Muslims, who are told that they will go on making progress in the world, but it will be a gradual progress, and there may be set-backs. But the ultimate state would be one of triumph. In this case the night spoken of in the previous verse would mean the adversities which Islam itself will have to face, and the full moon would indicate its final triumph. The commentators also explain this verse as being a prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam.

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