Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Insan 76:1-10

In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.

76:1 Has there [not] been an endless span of time before man [appeared – a time] when he was not yet a thing to be thought of?


Implying, according to all the classical commentators, “there has indeed been an immensely long [or “endless”] span of time” – the interrogative particle hal having here the positive meaning of qad. However, this meaning can be brought out equally well by interpolating the word “not”.

76:2 Verily, it is We who have created man out of a drop of sperm intermingled, so that We might try him [in his later life], and therefore We made him a being endowed with hearing and sight.


Lit., “a thing mentioned” or “mentionable” – i.e., non-existent even as a hypothetical concept. The purport of this statement is a refutation of the blasphemous “anthropocentric” worldview, which postulates man as he exists – and not any Supreme Being – as the center and ultimate reality of all life.

76:3 Verily, We have shown him the way, [and it rests with him to prove himself] either grateful or ungrateful.


Sc., “with the female ovum”; cf. 86:6-7.

76:4 [Now] Behold, for those who deny the truth We have readied chains and shackles, and a blazing flame. 


i.e., God has not only endowed man with “hearing and sight”, i.e., with reason and the instinctive ability to discern between right and wrong, good and evil (cf. 90:10), but He also actively guides him by means of the revelation bestowed on the prophets.

76:5 [whereas] Behold, the truly virtuous shall drink from a cup flavored with the calyx of sweet-smelling flowers.


In this context, the “denial of the truth” (kufr) apparently relates to man’s deliberate suppression of his inborn cognition of God’s existence (cf. 7:172 and the corresponding note 139) as well as to his disregard of his own instinctive perceptions of good and evil.

76:6 A source [of bliss] whereof God’s servants shall drink, seeing it flow in a flow abundantly.


Sc., “of despair”. For the metaphor of “shackles and chains” – i.e., the consequence of the sinners’ blind surrender to their own passions and to false values, and the resulting enslavement of their spirit – see surah 34, note 44; also Razi’s elaborate comments (quoted in note 7 on 73:12-13) on this allegory of suffering in the hereafter.

76:7 [The truly virtuous are] they [who] fulfill their vows and stand in awe of a Day the woe of which is bound to spread far and wide. 


The Lisan al-Arab gives “the calyx (kimm) of the grape before its flowering” as the primary significance of kafur; according to other lexicologists (e.g” Taj al-‘Arus), it denotes “the calyx of any flower”; Jawhari applies it to the “spathe of a palm tree”, Hence, this – and not “camphor” – is evidently the meaning of kafur in the above context: an allusion to the sweet, extremely delicate fragrance of the symbolic “drink” ‘of divine knowledge (cf. 83:25-28 and the corresponding notes 8 and 9).

76:8 And who give food – however great be their own want of it – unto the needy, and the orphan, and the captive.


Lit” “making [or “letting”] it flows…”, etc.: i.e., having it always at their disposal.

76:9 [Saying, in their hearts] “We feed you for the sake of God alone, we desire no recompense from you, nor thanks. 


i.e., the spiritual and social obligations arising from their faith.

76:10 Behold, we stand in awe of our Sustainer’s judgment on a distressful, fateful Day!”


Or, as in 2:176, “however much they themselves may cherish [i.e., “need”] it”; cf. also 90:14-16. It is to be noted that in this context the concept of “giving food” comprises every kind of help and care, both material and moral.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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