In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
70:1 One who is minded to ask might ask about the suffering which [in the hereafter] is bound to befall.
Lit.,” An inquirer inquired” or “might inquire”.
70:2 Those who deny the truth. [Know, then, that] nothing can ward it off.
In view of the fact that many of “those who deny the truth” – and, by implication, do evil in consequence of that deliberate denial – prosper in this world, a doubter might well ask whether or when this state of affairs will really be reversed and the values adjusted in accord with divine justice. An answer to the “whether” is given in the second paragraph of verse 2, and to the “when”, elliptically, at the end of verse 4.
70:3 [Since it will come] from God, unto whom there are many ways of ascent.
Lit., “He of the [many] ascents”: a metonymical phrase implying that there are many ways by which man can “ascend” to a comprehension of God’s existence, and thus to spiritual “nearness” to Him – and that, therefore, it is up to each human being to avail himself of any of the ways leading towards Him (cf. 76:3).
70:4 All the angels and all the inspiration [ever granted to man] ascend unto Him [daily] in a day the length whereof is [like] fifty thousand years.
For my rendering of ruh as “inspiration”, see surah 16, note 2. The “ascent” of the angels and of all inspiration may be understood in the same sense as the frequently-occurring phrase “all things go back to God [as their source]” (Razi).
70:5 Therefore, [O believer] endure all adversity with a goodly patience.
The very concept of “time” is meaningless in relation to God, who is timeless and infinite: cf. note 63 on the last sentence of 22:47 – “in thy Sustainer’s sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning”: in other words, a day, or an aeon, or a thousand years, or fifty thousand years are alike to Him, having an apparent reality only within the created world and none with the Creator. And since in the hereafter time will cease to have a meaning for man as well, it is irrelevant to ask as to “when” the evildoers will be chastised and the righteous given their due.
70:6 Behold, men look upon that [reckoning] as something far away.
70:7 But, We see it as near!
Lit., “man has been created restless (halu’an)” – that is, endowed with an inner restlessness which may equally well drive him to fruitful achievement or to chronic discontent and frustration. In other words, it is the manner in which man utilizes this God-will endowment that determines whether it shall have a positive or a negative character. The subsequent two verses (20 and 21) allude to the latter, while verses 22-25 show that only true spiritual and moral consciousness can mold that inborn restlessness into a positive force, and thus bring about inner stability and abiding contentment.
70:8 [It will take place] on a Day when the sky will be like molten lead.
The participle jazu – derived from the verb jazi’a – combines the concepts of “lacking patience” and “lamenting over one’s misfortune”, and is, therefore, the contrary of sabr (Jawhari).
70:9 And the mountains will be like tufts of wool.
This, I believe, is the meaning of the expression al-musallin (lit., “the praying ones”), which evidently does not relate here to the mere ritual of prayer but, rather, as the next verse shows, to the attitude of mind and the spiritual need underlying it. In this sense, it connects with the statement in verse 19 that “man is born with a restless disposition” which, when rightly used, leads him towards conscious spiritual growth, as well as to freedom from all self-pity and selfishness.
70:10 And [when] no friend will ask about his friend.
Sc., “but do not or cannot beg”: see Razi’s comments on a similar phrase in 51:19, quoted in my corresponding note 12.