In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful


Holy Quran Surah 70 Al Ma’arij (The Ways of Ascent)

Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Quran in English Language by A.Yusuf Ali

1     A questioner asked about a Penalty to befall 5675

2     The Unbelievers the which there is none to ward off

3     (A Penalty) from Allah Lord of the Ways of Ascent. 5676

4     The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years: 5677 5678

5     Therefore do thou hold Patience a Patience of beautiful (contentment). 5679

6     They see the (Day) indeed as a far-off (event):

7     But We see it (quite) near. 5680

8     The Day that the sky will be like molten brass 5681

9     And the mountains will be like wool 5682

10   And no friend will ask after a friend 5683

11   Though they will be put in sight of each other the sinner's desire will be: would that he could redeem himself from the Penalty of that Day by (sacrificing) his children 5684

12   His wife and his brother

13   His kindred who sheltered him.

14   And all all that is on earth so it could deliver him: 5685

15   By no means! For it would be the Fire of Hell!

16   Plucking out (his being) right to the skull! 5686

17   Inviting (all) such as turn their backs and turn away their faces (from the Right) 5687

18   And collect (wealth) and hide it (from use)!

19   Truly man was created very impatient 5688

20   Fretful when evil touches him;

21   And niggardly when good reaches him 5689

22   Not so those devoted to Prayer 5690

23   Those who remain steadfast to their prayer;

24   And those in whose wealth is a recognized right

25   For the (needy) who asks and him who is prevented (for some reason from asking); 5691

26   And those who hold to the truth of the Day of Judgment;

27   And those who fear the displeasure of their Lord 5692

28   For their Lord's displeasure is the opposite of Peace and Tranquillity 5693

29   And those who guard their chastity

30   Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess for (then) they are not to be blamed 5694

31   But those who trespass beyond this are transgressors

32   And those who respect their trusts and covenants; 5695

33   And those who stand firm in their testimonies; 5696

34   And those who guard (the sacredness) of their worship 5697

35   Such will be the honored ones in the Gardens of (Bliss).



The Surah takes its name from the word dhil Ma'arij in verse 3.

 Period of Revelation

The subject matter bears evidence that this Surah too was sent down in conditions closely resembling those under which Surah Al Haaqqah was sent down.

 Theme and Subject Matter

It admonishes and gives warning to the disbelievers who made fun of the news about Resurrection and the Hereafter, and Hell and Heaven, and challenged the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) to cause Resurrection with which he threatened them to take place if what he said was true and they had become worthy of the punishment in Hell by denying it. The whole Surah is meant to answer this denial.

The Surah opens with words to the effect: "A demander has demanded a torment, the torment which must befall the deniers; and when it takes place, there will be none to prevent it, but it will take place at its own appointed time. Allah has His own way of doing things, but He is not unjust. Therefore, have patience, O Prophet, at what they say. They think it is far off, but We see it as near at hand."

Then it is said:"Resurrection, which they desire to be hastened out of jest and fun, is terrible, and when it comes, it will cause great distress to the culprits. At that time they will even be prepared to give away their wives and children and their nearest kinsfolk in ransom to escape the punishment, but they will not be able to escape it.

Then the people have been warned to the effect; "On that Day the destinies of men will be decided strictly on the basis of their belief and their conduct. Those who turn away from the Truth in the world and amass wealth and withhold it from the needy, will be doomed to Hell; and those who fear the punishment of God here, believe in the Hereafter, keep up the Prayer, discharge the rights of the needy out of their wealth, strictly avoid immoral and wicked deeds, practise honesty in all their dealings, fulfil their pledges and trust and bear true witness, will have a place of honour in Paradise."

In conclusion, the disbelievers of Makkah who rushed in upon the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) from every side as soon as they saw him, in order to make fun of him, have been warned to the effect: "If you do not believe, Allah will replace you by other people who will be better than you", and the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been consoled, so as to say: "Do not take to heart their mockery and jesting; leave them to indulge in their idle talk and foolish conduct if they are bent upon experiencing the disgrace and humiliation of the Resurrection; they will themselves see their evil end."'


5675  Any one might ask. When will Judgment come? That question usually implies doubt. The answer is: the knowledge of Time is beyond man's comprehension. But there is something which touches him closely and concerns his conduct and his future welfare; and that is explained in four propositions. (1) Judgment is sure to come, and none can ward it off; (2) it will exact a dreadful Penalty from Unbelievers, but the righteous have nothing to fear; (3) it will be a Penalty from Allah, the Lord of both Justice and Mercy; it will not be merely a blind calamity of fate; and (4) further we are reminded of another title of Allah, "Lord of the Ways of Ascent"; which means that though He sits high on Ms Throne of Glory, He is not inaccessible, but in His infinite Mercy has provided ways of ascent to Him; see next note. (70.1)

5676  Ma'arij: stair-ways, ways of ascent. In xliii. 33, the word is used in its literal sense: "silver stair-ways on which to go up". Here there is a profound spiritual meaning. Can we reach up to Allah Most High? In His infinite grace He gives that privilege to angels. But the way is not easy, nor can it be travelled in a day. See the next two notes. (70.3)

5677  Ruh: "The Spirit". Cf. lxxviii. 38, "the Spirit and the angels"; and xcvii. 4, "the angels and the Spirit". In xvi. 2, we have translated Ruh by "inspiration". Some Commentators understand the angel Gabriel by "the Spirit". But I think a more general meaning is possible, and fits the context better. (70.4)

5678  Cf. xxxii. 4-5, and notes 3632 and 3634 (70.4)

5679  The prophet of Allah, persecuted and in trouble with the world, should yet hold Patience-not the sort of patience which goes with complaints expressed or suppressed, but the sort of patience that is content with the ordering of Allah's world, for he believes and knows it to be good, as did the holy Prophet Muhammad. Such a patience is akin to Good pleasure, for it arises from the purest faith and trust in Allah. (70.5)

5680  The men of evil may see the just retribution for their sins so far off that they doubt whether it would ever come. But in Allah's sight, and on the scale of the Universal Plan, it is quite near; for time as we know it hardly exists in the next world. It may come in this life; but it is bound to come eventually. (70.7)

5681  Cf. xviii. 29 (where the wrong-doer will have a drink like melted brass in Hell); and xliv. 45, (where his food will be like molten brass). Here the appearance of the sky is compared to molten brass, or, as some understand it, like the dregs of oil. What is conveyed by the metaphor is that the beautiful blue sky will melt away. (70.8)

5682  Cf. ci. 5. where the metaphor of carded wool is used. The mountains which seem so solid will be like flakes of wool driven by the carder's hand. (70.9)

5683  The world as we know it win have so completely passed away that the landmarks in the heavens and on earth will also have vanished. Not only that, but the human relationships of mind and heart will have been transformed by sin into something ugly and dreadful. The sinners will be so overcome with terror at the realisation of their personal responsibility that they will desert their most intimate friends, and indeed their very sight of each other will add to their agony. (70.10)

5684  The sinner will offer his children, his family, his kinsmen, who had sheltered and protected him,-in fact everything on earth that he could-as a ransom for himself. Such would be his selfishness and his agony. (70.11)

5685  What would not the sinner give for his own deliverance! But nothing could save him. The Fire of Hell would be roaring for him! (70.14)

5686  It would be a Fire not only burning his body, but reaching right up to his brains and his understanding and-as is said in civ. 7-his heart and affections also. In other words the Fire will burn into his inmost being. (70.16)

5687  The analysis of sin is given in four master-strokes, of which the first two refer to the will or psychology of the sinner, and the last two to the use he makes of the good things of this life. (1) Sin begins with turning your back to the Right, refusing to face it squarely, running away from it whether from cowardice or indifference. (2) But Conscience and the sense of Right will try to prevent the flight; the Grace of Allah will meet the sinner at all corners and try to reclaim him; the hardened sinner will deliberately turn away his face from it, insult it, and reject it. (3) The result of this psychology will be that he will abandon himself to greed, to the correction of riches, and the acquisition of material advantages to which he is not entitied; this may involve hypocrisy, fraud, and crime. (4) Having acquired the material advantages, the next step will be to keep others out of them, to prevent hoarded wealth from fructifying by circulation, to conceal it from envy or spite. This is the spiritual Rake's Progress. (70.17)

5688  Man, according to the Plan of Allah, was to be in the best of moulds (xcv. 4). But in order to fulfil his high destiny he was given free-will to a limited extent. The wrong use of this free-will makes his nature weak (iv. 28), or hasty (xvii. 11), or unpatient, as here. That becomes his nature by his own act, but he is spoken of as so created because of the capacities given to him in his creation. (70.19)

5689  In adversity he complains and gets into despair. In prosperity he becomes arrogant and forgets other people's rights and his own shortcomings. Cf. xli. 49-50. (70.21)

5690  The description of those devoted to Prayer is given in a number of clauses that follow, introduced by the words "Those who..." "Devoted to Prayer" is here but another aspect of what is described elsewhere as the Faithful and the Righteous. Devotion to prayer does not mean merely a certain number of formal rites or prostrations. It means a complete surrender of one's being to Allah. This means an earnest approach to and realisation of Allah's Presence ("steadfastness in Prayer"); acts of practical and real charity; and attempt to read this life in terms of the Hereafter; the seeking of the Peace of Allah and avoidance of His displeasure; chastity; probity true and firm witness; and guarding the prayer. (verse 34). (70.22)

5691  See n. 5001 to li. 19. True charity consists in finding out those in real need, whether they ask or not. Most frequently those who ask are idle men who insolently wish to live upon others. But all cases of those who ask should be duly investigated, in case a little timely help may set the erring on the way. But the man with wealth or talent or opportunity has the further responsibility of searching out those in need of his assistance, in order to show that he holds all gifts in trust for the service of his fellow- creatures. (70.25)

5692  A true fear of Allah is the fear of offending against His holy Will and Law, and is therefore akin to the love of Allah. It proceeds from the realisation that all true peace and tranquillity comes from attuning our will to the universal Will and that sin causes discord, disharmony, and displeasure,-another name for the Wrath of Allah. (70.27)

5693  I.e., that the punishment of sin may come suddenly at any time, when you least expect it. (70.28)

5694  Cf. iv. 24. (70.30)

5695  For obligations of trusts and covenants, express or implied, see n. 682 to v. 1. They are just as sacred in ordinary everyday life as they are in special spiritual relationships. In addition, our life itself, and such reason and talents as we possess, as well as our wealth and possessions are trusts, of which we must fulfil the duties punctiliously. (70.32)

5696  If we know any truth of any kind, to that we must bear witness, as affecting the lives or interests of our fellow-beings,-firmly, not half-heartedly, without fear or favour, even if it causes loss or trouble to us, or if it loses us friends or associates. (70.33)

5697  We began with "steadfastness in prayer" in verse 23 above, and after a review of various aspects of the good man's fife, close with the guarding of worship. (70.34)

Holy Quran Surah 70 Al Ma’arij (The Ways of Ascent)

Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Quran in English Language by A.Yusuf Ali

36   Now what is the matter with the Unbelievers that they rush madly before thee 5698

37   From the right and from the left in crowds?

38   Does every man of them long to enter the Garden of Bliss?

39   By no means! For We have created them out of the (base matter) they know! 5699

40   Now I do call to witness the Lord of all points in the East and the West that We can certainly 5700 5701 5702

41   Substitute for them better (men) than they; and We are not to be defeated (in Our Plan).

42   So leave them to plunge in vain talk and play about until they encounter that Day of theirs which they have been promised! 5703

43   The Day whereon they will issue from their sepulchers in sudden haste as if they were rushing to a goal-post (fixed for them) 5704

44   Their eyes lowered in dejection ignominy covering them (all over)! Such is the Day the which they are promised!


5698  Before thee. The Unbelievers did not believe in a Hereafter. When the Bliss of the Hereafter was described, as in the last verse, they ridiculed it and pretended to be running in for it as in a race. They are here rebuked in the same tone of sarcasm. (70.36)

5699  The animal part of man is nothing to be proud of, and they know it. It is by spiritual effort, and long preparation through a good life that a man can rise above the mere animal part of him to his high dignity as a spiritual being, and his noble destiny in the Hereafter. (70.39)

5700  For the form of adjuration, cf. lxix. 38, n. 5665; also lvi. 75. Here the witness placed before us by Allah is His own power and glory manifested in the splendour of sunrise and sunset at different points through the solar year. (70.40)

5701  See n. 4034 to xxxvii. 5. If Allah has such power in the wonderful phenomena of the rising of the sun at varying points, repeated year after year, can you not see that He can easily substitute better men than you Unbelievers and blasphemers? (70.40)

5702  The transition from the singular "I" to the plural "We" may be noted. See n. 56 to ii. 38. (70.40)

5703  Their talk, their scepticism, is vain, because all spiritual evidence is against it; it is like the foolish play of people who do not think seriously. But the tremendous Day of Judgment and Reality will come, as described in the next two verses. (70.42)

5704  Now there will be a definite Goal-post or Banner or Standard of Truth fixed, which all must acknowledge. But they will acknowledge it in shame and dejection. For the time for their repentance and amendment will then have passed. (70.43)

End of Surah Al-Ma’arij