Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Muzzammil 73:1-10

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

73:1 O Thou enwrapped one!


The expression muzzammil has a meaning similar to that of muddaththir, which occurs at the beginning of the next surah: namely, “one who is covered [with anything]”, “enwrapped” or “enfolded [in anything]”; and, like that other expression, it may be understood in a concrete, literal sense – i.e., “wrapped up in a cloak” or “blanket” – as well as metaphorically, i.e., “wrapped up in sleep” or even “wrapped up in oneself”. Hence, the commentators differ widely in their interpretations of the above apostrophe, some of them preferring the literal connotation, others the metaphorical; but there is no doubt that irrespective of the linguistic sense in which the address “O thou enwrapped one” is understood, it implies a call to heightened consciousness and deeper spiritual awareness on the part of the Prophet.

73;2 Keep awake [in prayer] at night, all but a small part. 


Thus Zamakhshari, relating the phrase illa qalilan (“all but a small part”) to the subsequent word nisfahu (“one-half thereof”, i.e., of the night).

73:3 Of onehalf thereof – or make it a little less than that. 


This, I believe, is the closest possible rendering of the phrase rattil al-qur’ana tartilan. The term tartil primarily denotes “the putting [of something] together distinctly, in a well-arranged manner, and without any haste” (Jawhari, Baydawi; also Lisan al-‘Arab, Qamus). When applied to the recitation of a text, it signifies a calm, measured utterance with thoughtful consideration of the meaning to be brought out. A somewhat different significance attaches to a variant of this phrase in 25:32, applying to the manner in which the Qur’an was revealed.

73:4 Or add to it [at will], and [during that time] recite the Qur’an calmly and distinctly, with thy mind attuned to its meaning.


Lit., “are strongest of tread and most upright of speech”.

73:5 Behold, We shall bestow upon thee a weighty message. 


For this rendering of the term wakil, see surah 17, note 4

73:6 [And] Verily, the hours of night the mind most strongly and speak with the clearest voice.


Cf. 74:11 and the last sentence of the corresponding note 5.

73:7 Whereas by day a long chain of doings is thy portion.


Explaining this symbolism of torment in the hereafter, Razi says: “These four conditions may well be understood as denoting the spiritual consequences [of one’s doings in life]. As regards the ‘heavy fetters’, they are a symbol of the soul’s remaining shackled to its [erstwhile] physical attachments and bodily pleasures…: and now that their realization has become impossible, those fetters and shackles prevent the [resurrected] human personality {an-nafs) from attaining to the realm of the spirit and of purity. Subsequently, those spiritual shackles generate spiritual ‘fires’ inasmuch as one’s strong inclination towards bodily concerns, together with the impossibility of attaining to them, give rise, spiritually, to [a sensation of] severe burning…: and this is [the meaning of] ‘the blazing fire’ (al-jahim). Thereupon [the sinner] tries to swallow the choking agony of deprivation and the pain of separation [from the objects of his desire]: and this is the meaning of the words, ‘and food that chokes’, And, finally, because of these circumstances, he remains deprived of all illumination by the light of God, and of all communion with the blessed ones: and this is the meaning of the words ‘and grievous suffering’ … But [withal,] know that I do not claim to have exhausted the meaning of these Qur’anic verses by what have been stated [above]…”

73:8 But [whether by night or by day] remember thy Sustainer’s name, and devote thyself unto Him with utter devotion.


See the first part of 14:48, and the corresponding note 63, as well as note 90 on 20:105-107

73:9 The Sustainer of the east and the west [is He], there is no deity save Him, hence, ascribe to Him alone the power to determine thy fate.


This is probably the oldest Qur’anic reference to the earlier prophets, to the historic, continuity in mankind’s religious experience, and, by implication, to the fact that the Qur’an does not institute a “new” faith but represents only the final, most comprehensive statement of religious principle as old as mankind itself: namely, that “in the sight of God, the only [true] religion is [man’s] self-surrender unto Him” (3:19), and that “if one goes in search of a religion other than self-surrender unto God, it will never be accepted from him” (3:85).

73:10 And endure with patience whatever people may say [against thee], and avoid them with a comely avoidance.


In ancient Arabian usage, a day full of terrifying events was described metaphorically as a day on which the locks of children turn grey”; hence the use of this phrase in the Qur’an. Its purely metaphorical character is obvious since, according to the teachings of the Qur’an, children are considered sinless – i.e., not accountable for their doings – and will, therefore, remain untouched by the ordeals and terrors of the Day of Judgment (Razi).


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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