In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

 

Holy Quran Surah 74 Al-Muddaththir (The One Wrapped Up)

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

1     O thou wrapped up (in a mantle)! 5778

2     Arise and deliver thy warning!

3     And thy Lord do thou magnify!

4     And thy garments keep free from stain! 5779

5     And all abomination shun! 5780

6     Nor expect in giving any increase (for thyself)! 5781

7     But for thy Lord's (Cause) be patient and constant! 5782

8     Finally when the Trumpet is sounded

9     That will be that Day a Day of Distress 5783

10   Far from easy for those without Faith.

11   Leave Me alone (to deal) with the (creature) whom I created (bare and) alone! 5784 5785

12   To whom I granted resources in abundance

13   And sons to be by his side! 5786

14   To whom I made (life) smooth and comfortable!

15   Yet is he greedy that I should add (yet more) 5787

16   By no means! For to Our Signs he has been refractory!

17   Soon will I visit him with a mount of calamities! 5788

18   For he thought and he plotted

19   And woe to him! how he plotted! 5789

20   Yea woe to him! how he plotted!

21   Then he looked round;

22   Then he frowned and he scowled;

23   Then he turned back and was haughty;

24   Then said he: "This is nothing but magic derived from of old;" 5790

25   "This is nothing but the word of a mortal!"

26   Soon will cast him into Hell-Fire! 5791

27   And what will explain to thee what Hell-Fire is?

28   Naught doth it permit to endure and naught doth it leave alone! 5792

29   Darkening and changing the color of man!

30   Over it are Nineteen. 5793

31   And We have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers in order that the people of the Book may arrive at certainty and the Believers may increase in Faith and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say "What symbol doth Allah intend by this?" Thus doth Allah leave to stray whom He pleaseth and guide whom He pleaseth; and none can know the forces of the Lord except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind. 5794 5795 5796 5797


Introduction

Name

The Surah takes its name from the word al-muddaththir in the first verse. This also is only a name, not a title of its subject matter.

 Period of Revelation

The first seven verses of this Surah belong to the earliest period at Makkah. Even according to some traditions which have been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad, etc., on the authority of Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah, these are the very earliest verses of the Quran to be revealed to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). But the Muslim Ummah almost unanimously agreed that the earliest Revelation to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) consisted of the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq (XCVI) However, what is established by authentic traditions is that after this first Revelation, no Revelation came down to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for quite some time. Then, when it was resumed, it started with theme verses of Surah Al-Muddaththir. Imam Zuhri has given the following details of it:

"Revelation to the Holy Prophet remained suspended for quite some time, and it was such a period of deep grief and distress for him that he started going early to the tops of the mountains to throw himself down from them. But whenever he stood on the edge of a peak, the Angel Gabriel would appear and tell him that he was Allah's Prophet. This would console him and restore to him full peace of mind." (Ibn Jarir). After this Imam Zuhri relates the following tradition on the authority of Hadrat Jabir bin Abdullah; "The Holy Messenger of Allah describing the period of falrat al-wahi (break in revelation) said: One day when I was passing on the way, I suddenly heard a call from heaven. I raised my head and saw that the same Angel who had visited me in the Cave of Hira was sitting on a throne between heaven and earth. This struck terror in my heart, and reaching home quickly, I said: 'Cover me up, cover me up'. So the people of the house covered me up with a quilt (or blanket). At that time Allah sent down the Revelation: Ya ayyuhal-Muddaththiru... From then on revelation became intense and continuous." (Bukhari, Muslim Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jarir).

The rest of the Surah (vv. 8-56) was revealed when the first Hajj season came after public preaching of Islam had begun in Makkah. This has been fully well described in the Surah by Ibn Hishan and we shall cite it below.

 Theme and Subject. Matter

As has been explained above, the earliest Revelation to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) consisted of the first five verses of Surah Al-Alaq, in which it had been Said: "Read (O Prophet), in the name of your Lord, Who created: created man from a clot of congealed blood. Read: and your Lord is Most Generous, Who taught knowledge by the pen, taught man what he did not know."

This was the first experience of Revelation met with suddenly by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). in this message it was not told what great mission he had been entrusted with and what duties he had to perform in future. He was only initiated into it and then left alone for a time so that the great strain this experience had caused should pass away and he should mentally become prepared to receive the Revelation and perform the prophetic mission in the future. After this intermission when Revelation Was resumed, tbe first seven verses of this Surah were revealed: In these he Was for the first time commanded to arise and warn the people of the consequences of the way of life they were following and to proclaim the greatness of God in the world where others were being magnified without any right. Along with that he was given this instruction: The demand of the Unique mission that you have to perform, now is that your life should be pure in every respect and you should carry out the duty of reforming your people sincerely irrespective of any worldly gain. Then, in the last sentence, he was exhorted to endure with patience, for the sake of his Lord, all the hardships and troubles that he might have to face while performing his mission.

In the implementation of this Divine Command when the Holy Messenger of Allah began to preach Islam and recite the Quranic Surahs revealed successsively, the people of Makkah felt alarmed, and it provoked a great storm of opposition and hostility. A few months passed in this state until the Hajj season approached. The people of Makkah feared that if Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) started visiting the caravans of the pilgrims coming from all over Arabia at their halting places and reciting the spellbinding and unique Revelations of the Quran in their assemblies on the occasion of Hajj, his message would reach every part of Arabia and influence countless people. Therefore, the Quraish chiefs held a conference and settled that they would start a propaganda campaign against the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) among the pilgrims as soon as they arrived. After they had agreed on this, Walid bin al-Mughirah said to the assembled people: "If you said contradictory things about Muhuammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings), we all would lose our trust among the people. Therefore, let us agree upon one opinion, which we should all say without dispute. Some people said that they would call Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) a soothsayer. Walid said: No, by God, be is not a soothsayer. We have seen the soothsayers: what they murmur and what they utter has no remote resemblance with the Quran. Some other people said: Then we say be is possessed. Walid said: He is not a possessed one: we have seen bad and insane people; the way one talks disjointedly and behaves foolishly in that state is known to all: who would believe that what Muhammad (upon whom be peace) presented was the incoherent speech of a madman? The people said: Then we say he is a poet. Walid said: No, he is not a poet, for we know poetry in all its forms, and what he presents conforms to no form of it. The people said: Then he is a sorcerer. Walid said: He is no sorcerer either: we have seen sorcerers and we also know what methods they adopt for their sorcery. This also does not apply to Muhammad. Then he said: "Whichever of these things you said about Muhammad, it would be known to be a false accusation. By God, his speech is sweet, his root is deep and his branches are fruitful. At this Abu Jahl, urging on Walid, said: Your people will never be pleased with you unless you say something about Muhammad. He said: Let me think over it awhile. Then, after prolonged thought and consideration, he said: The nearest thing to the truth is that you tell the Arabs that he is a sorcerer, who has brought a message by which he separates a man from his father; and from his brother, and from his wife and children, and from his family. They all agreed on what Walid had proposed. Then, according to a scheme the men of Quraish spread among the pilgrims in the Hajj season and they warned everyone they met of the scrcery of Muhammad (upon whom be peace) and of his stirring up divisions in the families by it." But the result was that by their this plan the Quraish chiefs themselves made the name of the Holy Messenger known throughout Arabia. (Ibn Hisham, pp. 288-289. That Walid had made this proposal on the insistence of Abu Jahl has been related by Ibn Jarir in his Tafsir on the authority of Ikrimah).

In conclusion, it has been explicitly stated: Allah does not stand in need of anybody's faith that He may fulfil his conditions. The Quran is an admonition that has been presented before the people openly; now whoever wills may accept it. Allah has a right that the people should fear His disobedience and He alone has the power to forgive the one who adopts piety and an attitude of God consciousness even though one may have committed many acts of disobedience in the past.


Notes

5778  In these wonderful early verses there is a double thread of thought: (1) A particular occasion or person is referred to; (2) a general spiritual lesson is taught. As to (1), the Prophet was now past the stage of personal contemplation, lying down or sitting in his mantle; he was now to go forth boldly to deliver his Message and publicly proclaim the Lord: his heart had always been purified, but now all his outward doings must be dedicated to Allah, and conventional respect for ancestral customs or worship must be thrown aside; his work as a Messenger was the most generous gift that could flow from his personality, but no reward or appreciation was to be expected from his people, but quite the contrary; there would be much call on his patience, but his contentment would arise from the good pleasure of Allah. As to (2), similar stages arise in a minor degree in the life of every good man, for which the Prophet's life is to be a universal pattern. (74.1)

5779  Possibly, in its immediate application, there is a reference to the dirt and filth which the Pagans used to throw at the Prophet to insult and persecute him. (74.4)

5780  Rujz or Rijz: abomination: usually understood to refer to idolatry. It is even possible that there was an idol called Rujz. But it has a wider signification, as including a mental state opposed to true worship, a state of doubt or indecision. (74.5)

5781  The legal and commercial formula is that you give in order to receive. And usually you expect to receive what is worth to you a little more than you give. The spiritual consideration is that you give, but expect nothing from the receiver. You serve Allah and Allah's creatures. (74.6)

5782  Our zeal for Allah's Cause itself requires that we should not be impatient, and that we should show constancy in our efforts for His Cause. For we have faith, and we know that He is All-Good, All-Wise, and All-Powerful, and everything will ultimately be right. (74.7)

5783  The Sinner's course is now shown in contrast to the Seeker's. The Sinner may be self-complacent now: but what will be his position when the Reckoning comes? Not easy, indeed a Day of Distress! (74.9)

5784  The question of Justice and Punishment to men is for Allah alone. For man at his best can see only one side of truth, and only Allah is All-Knowing. He alone can judge the limits of Justice and Mercy. (74.11)

5785  Man's adventitious advantages-wealth, power, position, talents-are not due to his own merits. They are gifts from Allah, Who created him. In himself he came bare and alone. (74.11)

5786  The great ones of the earth may have wealth, a large following, sons by their side to defend them and do their bidding and man-power to help them in their battles. Life may be smooth and agreeable to them. But their responsibility is to Allah. (74.13)

5787  The Sinner takes Allah's gifts as if they were his right. The more he gets, the more is he greedy. Yet to Allah's Signs and revelations he is wilfully deaf or even openly rebellious. But he is only preparing the way for his own undoing. (74.15)

5788  "A mount of calamities" or disasters: may be understood as a phrase for cumulative disasters. (74.17)

5789  Cf. li. 10: "Woe to the falsehood-mongers!" (74.19)

5790  The Commentators understand the reference to be to Walid ibn Mugaira, who was a wealthy Sybarite, Pagan to the core, and an inveterate enemy to the holy Prophet. He and Abu Jahl did all they could, from the beginning of the preaching of Islam, to abuse and persecute the Preacher, to run down his doctrine, and to injure those who believed in it. But the meaning for us is much wider. There are Walids in all ages. They cannot understand divine inspiration, and seek to explain its wonderful influence over the lives of men by some such unmeaning formula as "magic". The eternal Hope is to them mere human delusion! (74.24)

5791  The Sinner's perversity can only end in the Fire of Punishment. It enters his very being. See next note. (74.26)

5792  He is in a state in which he neither lives nor dies (lxxxvii. 13). Looked at in another way, the things that in a good man are meant to last and grow, are for the sinner destroyed, and no part of his nature is left untouched. The brightness of his very manhood is darkened and extinguished by sin. (74.28)

5793  The figure nineteen refers to angels appointed to guard Hell. See verse 31 below and the corresponding note. (74.30)

5794  Cf. lxvi. 6, and n. 5540. There was a great volume of angelology in the religious literature of the People of the Book (i.e., the Jews and Christians) to whom (among others) an appeal is made in this verse. The Essenes, a Jewish brotherhood with highly spiritual ideas; to which perhaps the prophet Jesus himself belonged, had an extensive literature of angelology. In the Midrash also, which was a Jewish school of exegesis and mystical interpretation, there was much said about angels. The Eastern Christian sects contemporary with the birth of Islam had borrowed and developed many of these ideas, and their mystics owed much to the Gnostics and the Persian apocalyptic systems. In the New Testament the relation of the angels with Fire is referred to more than once. In Rev. ix. 11 we have "the angel of the bottomless pit, whose naine in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon". In Rev. xiv. 18 there is an "angel which had power over fire", and in Rev. xvi. 8 an angel has "power ... given unto him to scorch men with fire". In the Old Testament (Daniel vii. 9-10) the essence of all angels is fire: thousand thousands of them issued as a fiery stream from before the Ancient of Days, whose "throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire". (74.31)

5795  The significance of numbers is a favourite theme with some writers, but I lay no stress on it. In Christian theology the number of the Beast, 666, in Rev. xiii. 18 has given rise to much controversy, and may refer only to the numerical value of the letters in the name of the Roman Emperor Nero. In our own literature I think that we ought to avoid too much insistence on speculative conjectures. (74.31)

5796  There are four classes of people mentioned here. (1) The Muslims will have their faith increased, because they believe that all revelation is from Allah Most Merciful, and all His forces will work in their favour. (2) The People of the Book, those who had received previous revelations of an analogous character, the Jews and Christians, had numerous sects disputing with each other on minute points of doctrine; but they will now, if they believe, find rest from controversies in a broad understanding of scripture. (3) Those in whose hearts is a disease (see ii. 8-10, notes 33-34), the insincere ones, the hypocrites, will only be mystified, because they believe nothing and have rejected the grace and mercy of Allah. (4) The Unbelievers have frankly done the same and must suffer similar consequences. (74.31)

5797  It is a necessary consequence of moral responsibility and freedom of choice in man, that he should be left free to stray if he chooses to do so, in spite of all the warning and the instruction he receives. Allah's channels of warning and instruction-his spiritual forces-are infinite, as are His powers. No man can know them. But this warning or reminder is addressed to all mankind. All things are referred to Allah. But we must not attribute evil to Him. In iv. 79 we are expressly told that the good comes from Allah, and the evil from ourselves. (74.31)


Holy Quran Surah 74 Al-Muddaththir (The One Wrapped Up)

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

32   Nay verily: by the Moon 5798

33   And by the Night as it retreateth 5799

34   And by the Dawn as it shineth forth

35   This is but one of the mighty (Portents) 5800

36   A warning to mankind

37   To any of you that chooses to press forward or to follow behind 5801

38   Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds. 5802

39   Except the Companions of the Right Hand. 5803

40   (They will be) in Gardens (of Delight); they will question each other

41   And (ask) of the Sinners:

42   "What led you into Hell-Fire?"

43   They will say: "We were not of those who prayed;"

44   "Nor were we of those who fed the indigent;"

45   "But we used to talk vanities with vain talkers;"

46   "And we used to deny the Day of Judgment"

47   "Until there came to us (the Hour) that is certain." 5804

48   Then will no intercession of (any) intercessors profit them.

49   Then what is the matter with them that they turn away from admonition? 5805

50   As if they were affrighted asses

51   Fleeing from a lion!

52   Forsooth each one of them wants to be given scrolls (of revelation) spread out! 5806

53   By no means! But they fear not the Hereafter.

54   Nay this surely is an admonition:

55   Let any who will keep it in remembrance! 5807

56   But none will keep it in remembrance except as Allah wills: He is the Lord of Righteousness and the Lord of Forgiveness. 5808


Notes

5798  An oath in human speech calls in evidence something sacred in the heart of man. In Allah's Message, also, when delivered in human language, solemn emphasis is indicated by an appeal to something striking among the Signs of Allah, which will go straight to the human heart which is addressed. In each case the symbol of the appeal has reference to the particular point enforced in the argument. Here we are asked to contemplate three wonderful phenomena, and they lead up to the conclusion in verse 38. (1) The moon, next after the sun, is the most striking luminary to our sight. Its reflected light has for us even a greater mystery than the direct light of the sun, which looks to us like pure fire. The moon was worshipped as a deity in times of darkness. But in reality, though she rules the night, her rays are only reflections, and are wanting in warmth and vitality. So every soul which looks up to a mere creature of Allah for a sort of vicarious salvation is in spiritual darkness or error; for the true source of spiritual light and life is Allah, and Allah alone. For (2) the Night and (3) the Dawn, see the following note. (74.32)

5799  (2) The Night when it is illuminated by the Moon is light in a sense, but it is really dark and must give place to (3) the Dawn when it comes, as the harbinger of the Sun. So in spiritual matters, when every soul realises its own responsibility, it will look less and less to reflected lights, and through the beauty of a dawn-like awakening, will be prepared more and more for the splendour of the light of Allah Himself, the goal of the Heaven of our dreams. (74.33)

5800  "This is but one," etc. There are numerous Signs of Allah, of which Judgment is one, and one of the mightiest portents. Or the reference may be to the waning of the Moon, the decline of the night, and the glorious sunrise, as tokens or symbols of the world renewed when the present transitory world passes away. According to some commentators "This" here refers to Hell. (74.35)

5801  Three interpretations are possible. (1) Those pressing forward may be the Righteous, and those following behind may be the laggards, the Unbelievers, who reject Allah's love, care, and mercy. (2) Men of two kinds of temperament may be referred to: those who are always in the van and those who are always in the rear. Allah's Message is open to both. But there may be a danger to both: in the one case, over-confindence, or hope in wrong things: in the other case missing great opportunities so that their spiritual lives may be "bound in shallows and in miseries". Extremes should be avoided. (3) Or it may mean that the warning is effective only for those willing to move forwards or backwards, as the case may be, but is lost on the inert or the lethargic. For our moral and spiritual progress, we have in some cases to go forwards, but in some cases we have to retreat from false positions. The hopeless case is that of the obstinate man, whose heart is so dead that he dares not advance to the right or withdraw from the wrong. (74.37)

5802  Cf. lii. 21. Man cannot shift his responsibility to vicarious saviours or saints. His redemption depends upon the grace of Allah, for which he should constantly and whole-heartedly strive by means of right conduct. If he does so he will be redeemed and he will join the Companions of the Right Hand. (74.38)

5803  Cf. n. 5223 to lvi. 3, and see lvi. 27-38. The Companions of the Right Hand will be the Righteous or the Blessed in the Hereafter. Their grounds of merit will be Prayer, Charity, Earnestness, and Faith in Allah's just Judgment: all of which are within the reach of the humblest Seeker. They are not separate acts or virtues, but are all inter-connected. At Judgment, the pledge of their soul will be redeemed by Allah's Grace at the Taking of the Account. (74.39)

5804  Cf. xv. 99, and n. 2018. The Hour that is Certain is usually taken to the Death. (74.47)

5805  If the Day of Judgment is inevitable, it is strange that men should not heed a plain warning, but go on as if they were thoughtless and obstinate asses stampeding from a lion. Instead of heeding the warning, they try to avoid it. They are frightened at Allah's Word. (74.49)

5806  Cf. xvii. 93: "Until thou send down to us a book, that we could read." The Unbelievers pretend in ridicule that they would believe if a special message written on open scrolls and addressed to them severally were brought to them by a miracle! There is a disease in their hearts and understandings. The Teacher's warning is plain, and enough for any reasonable man who has the will to seek Allah. (74.52)

5807  The Qur-an itself is the admonition-the latest among the revealed Books of Allah. If man has the will to learn, he will keep the Message always before Him, and Allah's grace will help him to carry it out in his conduct. (74.55)

5808  Righteousness as well as Forgiveness have their source in Allah's Will. Man's Righteousness has no meaning except in relation to the universal Will. For Taqwa see n. 26 to ii. 2. If we take the word here in the sense of "the fear of Allah", the translation would be: "He alone is worthy to be feared, and He alone is entitled to grant Forgiveness." (74.56)


End of Surah Al-Muddaththir