Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-Waqiah 56:1-10

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

56:1 When that which must come to pass [at last] comes to pass.

Explanation

i.e. the Last Hour and Resurrection

56:2 there will be naught that could give the lie to its having come to pass.

Explanation

Lit. “Those [or ‘The people’] of the left side”: see note 25 on 74:39.

56:3 Abasing [some], exalting [others]!

Explanation

[Lit., “those [or “the people”] of the left side”. Similar to the use of the expression maymanah as a metonym for “attaining to what is right”, the term mash’amah is used to denote “losing oneself in evil” (e.g., in 90:19). The origin of both these metonyms is based on the belief of the pre-Islamic Arabs that future events could be predicted by observing the direction of the flight of birds at certain times: if they flew to the right, the event in question promised to be auspicious; if to the left, the contrary. This ancient belief was gradually absorbed by linguistic usage, so that “right” and “left” became more or less synonymous with “auspicious” and “inauspicious”. In the idiom of the Qur’an, these two concepts have been deepened into “righteousness” and “unrighteousness”, respectively].

56:4 When the earth is shaken with a shaking [severe].

Explanation

The above stress on the “many” and the “few” contains an allusion to the progressive diminution, in the historical sense, of the element of excellence in men’s faith and ethical achievements. (See also note on verses 39-40).

56:5 And the mountains are shattered into [countless] shards. 

Explanation

See note on 15:47, which explains the symbolism of the above two verses.

56:6 So that they become as scattered dust. 

Explanation

This is evidently a symbolic allusion to the imperishable quality – the eternal youthfulness, as it were – of all the experiences in the state described as “paradise”. (See also next to two notes).

56:7 [On that Day] then, shall you be [divided into] three kinds.

Explanation

Regarding this and any other Qur’anic description of the joys of paradise, see 32:17 and, in particular, the corresponding note. The famous hadith quoted in that note must be kept in mind when reading any Qur’anic reference to the state or quality of human life in the hereafter.

56:8 Thus, there shall be such as will have attained to what is right, oh, how [happy] will be they who have attained to what is right!

Explanation

The noun hur – rendered by me as “companions pure” – is a plural of both ahwar (masc.) and hawra (fem.), either of which describes “a person distinguished by hawar”, which latter term primarily denotes “intense whiteness of the eyeballs and lustrous black of the iris” (Qamus). In a more general sense, hawar signifies simply “whiteness” (Asas) or, as a moral qualification, “purity” (cf. Tabari, Razi and Ibn Kathir in their explanations of the term hawariyyun in 3:52). Hence, the compound expression hurin signifies, approximately, “pure beings [or, more specifically,”companions pure”], most beautiful eye” (which latter is the meaning of in, the plural of ayan). In his comments on the identical expression in 52:20, Razi observes that inasmuch as a person’s eye reflects his soul more clearly than any other part of the human body, in may be understood as “rich of the soul” or “soulful”. As regards the term hur in its more current, feminine connotation, quite a number of the earliest Qur’an – commentators – among them Al-Hasan al-Basri – understood it as signifying no more and no less than “the righteous among the women of the humankind” (Tabari) – “[even] those toothless old women of yours whom God will resurrect as new beings” (Al-Hasan, as quoted by Razi in his comments on 44:54). See in this connection also note on 38:52.

56:9 And there shall be such as will have lost themselves in evil, oh, how [unhappy] will be they who have lost themselves in evil!

Explanation

Lit., “only the saying, ‘Peace, peace’ (salam)!” Regarding this latter term, see notes on 19:62, and 5:16.

56:10 But the foremost shall be [they who in life were] the foremost [in faith and good works].

Explanation

Lit., “those on the right hand”. According to some commentators, it is those who had not always been “foremost in faith and good works”, but have gradually, after erring and sinning, attained righteousness (Razi). However, though they may not have been as perfect in life as the “foremost”, their ultimate achievement brings them to the same state of spiritual fulfillment as those others.

President

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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