Tafseer of the Qur’an (Ep.-5) – Surat an-Naba’ (Ch.-78), Verses: 12-17
In verse 12 of Surat at- Naba’, Allah ‘azza wa jal says:
“And We have built above you seven strong Heavens.” (12)
Now, we see only one of these beautiful heavens above us. We see that it is so perfect; we don’t see any cracks in it. It is complete. It is full and strong and mighty. It does not fall or collapse upon us. Allah ‘azza wa jal has perfected it. And we know that there are seven heavens. We believe in that even though we have never been there. All what we see is the first heaven but there are a lot more. The Prophet salla Allah ‘alaihi wa sallam told us that in between one heaven and the next, there is a distance of 500 years of travel. Now whether this is light years or otherwise, Allah knows best. This is something which we have no knowledge of and going into it does not increase one in Iman and it doesn’t benefit us. And this is what we should focus on as Muslims – on what benefits us, what increases our Iman. But to ask questions about things that have no relation to us, to our Iman and to our conviction, this is not something of interest to a Muslim. For example, we all know the story of the youth, the boys who went into the cave with their dog and stayed there for three hundred and nine years, as mentioned in Surat al-Kahf (The Cave). Does it benefit us to ask, “What type of dog did they have? Was it a German shepherd? A greyhound? A Chihuahua? A Doberman?” Who cares?! “No, no, I need to know!” No, you don’t need to know this. This information doesn’t benefit you, doesn’t get you closer to Allah ‘azza wa jal. So, when you look at the heavens above, you will see wonders but we take them for granted- how Allah ‘azza wa jal manages to keep these stars in this beautiful sky and how nothing comes at us, nothing collapses, nothing falls apart or has any cracks and how it is full and complete.
In the following ayah, Allah ‘azza wa jal says:
“And have made therein, a shining lamp.” (13)
That is the sun. But before we discuss this ayah, I would like to point out one thing. Allah ‘azza wa jal says in the previous ayah, “And We have built above you seven strong heavens.” The word ‘We’; who is Allah ‘azza wa jal referring to? First of all, there is no one worthy of being worshipped except Allah ‘azza wa jal. This is a fact. Secondly, Allah ‘azza wa jal does not need any of His creations. Allah ‘azza wa jal is over His Throne, but does Allah need the Throne? No, rather the Throne is dependent on Allah ‘azza wa jal for its existence and Allah ‘azza wa jal does not need the Throne. Allah ‘azza wa jal does not need the Angels who carry the Throne, no matter how mighty and strong they are. Allah does not need Jibreel, Israfeel, Mikaaeel, these Great Leaders of the Angels. Allah ‘azza wa jal does not need His servants, does not need the heavens, does not need anything! Because Allah ‘azza wa Jal is The One and nothing else matters! There was Allah and nothing else with Him. Allah is the First, without a beginning and the Last without an end, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala. So if you believe in this, when you read the verses of the Quran that say ‘We’ did so and so or ‘We’ said so and so, you know that it is only Allah who does it. Allah ‘azza wa jal created the Angels and ordered the Angels to do certain things, not because He needs the Angels, but because He is the Sovereign, the King. And He has ordered those whom He has created, to serve Him as He wills, but not because He needs them. He needs no one, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala.
So Allah the Almighty has made therein a shining lamp, this beautiful sun that comes up every morning, which we, however, take for granted. Imagine if this sun came a few miles closer to the earth. What would happen to the earth’s inhabitants? The sun would burn the earth along with its inhabitants! And if it went a few miles away? The earth would freeze! Allah ‘azza wa jal is the One who keeps it exactly where He wants it so that the people would benefit from this huge star. It is so hot where I come from, Saudi Arabia, that people complain, “It’s hot! It’s humid! It’s this! It’s that!” People don’t appreciate Allah’s favors upon them! The places where there is less sunlight, you find people complaining about the lack of sun. Many people only appreciate a blessing when it is taken away from them. Without the sun, there won’t be any cultivation of crops or fruits, no evaporation and hence no rainfall, and the germs and viruses would annihilate life on this planet. But with the Grace of Allah ‘azza wa jal, the sun is there. Also, we would not have been able to sweat and get all the impurities and harmful things out of our body without the heat of the sun. Without the sun, the corpses would not deteriorate and mix into the soil; they would remain as they are. So there are so many things that we benefit from by the sun! Allah is opening our eyes – don’t you ponder upon this, that We have made therein a shining lamp for you?
Then Allah the Almighty says:
“And have sent down from the rainy clouds abundant water.” (14)
When you look at the water that comes down, you see that it comes as if it’s pouring down! I have been to the beautiful Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia a few months ago, and when it rains, it really pours down, Subhaan Allah! And they have this beautiful drainage system that is unlike any drainage system in the world. Within minutes, it’s gone! And then, it’s life as usual. And this water is what people live on. It’s what they use to farm their lands, what they use to drink and wash themselves with. It’s what they use in their livelihood. And when Allah ‘azza wa jal is angered by people, He will hold back this blessing from them and then there will be droughts and famines. This is a test from Allah ‘azza wa jal. But when Allah gives water, greenery, crops etc. to people, this doesn’t mean that He is pleased with them. It’s a test as well. Allah ‘azza wa jal has created us to test us. This is why you find both Muslims being tested and as well as disbelievers being tested.
Rain can either be a blessing or a torment. It can flood lands and drown people. And, Subhan Allah, ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz was once in Hajj and they heard the sound of thunder. The people in Hajj, in ‘Arafat, were terrified whereas ‘Umar was smiling! The people were puzzled and asked how he can smile when the people are terrified? He replied, “This is a sign of Allah’s Mercy upon us.” Rain is, generally speaking, Allah’s Mercy upon us, and thunder and lightning accompany this Mercy. So, he was smiling because what was making the people terrified was a sign of Allah’s Mercy! Then how would it be when Allah ‘azza wa jal is angered, when He is going to punish people? How is it going to be then? This is definitely something that is beyond our comprehension! May Allah ‘azza wa jal protect us all from His torment and punishment!
So when this rain comes down, what happens? Allah ‘azza wa jal says in the following ayah:
“That We may produce therewith grain and vegetations.” (15)
Which means: so that We may produce/extract/plant/grow grain like corn, wheat, barley, etc. All of this is considered grain. And ‘Nabata’ in the ayah means vegetation. So this is anything that is green like the grass, the plants that we use, fruits, vegetables, etc. All of this is considered‘Nabata’. Allah ‘azza wa jal uses the water for these things to be produced.
Then Allah says:
“And gardens of thick growth.” (16)
A ‘Jannah’ means a garden and ‘Jannah’ also means Paradise. In Arabic, Paradise is ‘Al-Firdous’, which is the highest level of the Gardens of Eden (Jannatu ‘Adn) and it’s the middle part of it. So, on the horizontal level, it is the middle part, and on the vertical level, it is the highest. This is known as ‘Al-Firdous’, Paradise. Now, this Paradise is the abode of those who believe. And ‘Jannah’ is also a garden, so they share the same name. However, the gardens here are nothing compared to the Gardens in Paradise. Anything surrounded by a wall is called a garden. In paradise, there is a wall that surrounds it, and your garden is different from mine. I have my own exclusivity and you have yours, in sha Allah, if we are admitted into Paradise!
Allah ‘azza wa jal describes them as ‘gardens of thick growth’ because when you have trees that are so close and so green, to the extent that they are intermingling with each other and there is no place for the light to come through, this is how you describe their thick growth. They are all around each other as if they are all one big unit. Because of their proximity to one another and because of their thickness, they are called ‘Jannaatin Alfaafa’, as if they are wrapping around each other, from the palm trees to the grape vines, etc.
Now, these were a few favors and blessings of Allah ‘azza wa jal on humanity, that we can say are eye openers. Just some of Allah’s Favors and Blessings, things that people take for granted! So what do we learn from these favors and blessings? We learn that Allah ‘azza wa jal is The Most Wise, The Most Knowledgeable, The Most Capable, The Most Strong, that all of these signs that we see around us are from His Own Doing and no one else can do that except Him, Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala! He has made the earth flat; He has made the night to be dark and daytime to be a time to go about for our livelihood; He has made the heavens; He has made the sun, He has made all these things that we see around us. All of these are signs of Allah’s Greatness, Allah’s Power and Allah’s Wisdom!
Also , going through these beautiful verses of the Qur’an, we learn that He who is Capable of doing all these things, that are so huge and so great, like erecting such mountains and to flatten the earth and to make the clouds run with pouring rainwater, is also Able to resurrect us. Thus, we believe in Allah’s ability to resurrect us. Most of the people who reject the idea of resurrection say, “How is it possible that the bones that are turned into dust can be resurrected again into a normal human being?” Well, Allah ‘azza wa jal is saying that the creation of the heavens and the earth which is far, far greater than the creation of a human being. Thus, He is Capable of resurrecting us and, not only that, but He also produced this human being from nothing! Then it is easier for Him to bring him back to life than creating him from nothing in the beginning.
So Allah ‘azza wa jal is establishing this ‘Aqeedah, this conviction of resurrection, that once you die, you simply do not turn into dust or ashes and that is it! End of story? No! There is a sequel: resurrection and a Day of Judgement when you will be held accountable for each and every deed you did in this life.
Allah ‘azza wa jal also tells us that we will get this knowledge whether we like it or not! If we do it the easy way, we will become Muslims and we will believe. But if we decide not to believe, then we will get this knowledge the hard way, and that is when death arrives and the veil is taken away from our sight and we see things as they really are, in which case we will have a very big problem.
So, after Allah ‘azza wa jal has mentioned all of these things, that open an individual’s eyes to the reality of Allah ‘azza wa jal being the Supreme Creator of this universe, Allah ‘azza wa jal moves on to ayah number 17. He says:
“Verily, the Day of Decision (the Day of Separation) is a fixed time.” (17)
Now, if you acknowledge the fact and the truth and you know that Allah has created all of this, you should know that you will be held accountable. So, what is the Day of Separation or the Day of Decision? It is the Day when the people are segregated into believers and disbelievers. The disbelievers are thrown into Hell and the believers are admitted into Paradise. Allah is telling us that this particular day is at a fixed time. Do we know when it is? No, we don’t! We don’t even bother asking when the Day of Judgement is because it is not going to benefit us more! What counts is: when is the day of our death? Because this is the Day of Separation and the Day of Judgement for us! Whether the actual Day of Resurrection is a day from now or a year from now or a gazillion years from now, it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is when I die. Because this means that I can’t do anything else anymore and this is the day when I will begin to face accountability until the Day of Resurrection. So the Day of Separation, the Day of Decision is the Day of Judgement, the Day of Reckoning. It has many different names. Why is that? Because in Arabic, the more important the thing is, the more names it has. For example, the hellfire. It is important, it is scary and we have a number of names for it. We have Al-Jaheem , An-Naar, Jahannam, etc. We have so many names for it! The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam has a number of names. Allah the Almighty has countless names, and we know 99 of them.
So, the Day of Judgement has a number of names. In this ayah, it is called Yaum al-Fasl; the Day of Separation or the Day of Decision. It is the day when Allah ‘azza wa jal separates between the people of truth and the people of falsehood, the people of belief and the people of disbelief, the people of aggression and the people of fairness, the people of Hell and the people of Paradise, etc. And it has, as stated before, a specific timing, a specific date, that only Allah the Almighty knows of.
This Day of Resurrection is the day when the trumpet will be blown into and all those who are dead will be resurrected and will stand up as one man. All will stand up together at the same time. And they will all be gathered in one plaza, one arena, one place. They will be naked, they will be barefooted and they will be uncircumcised. All will be in shock and awe and in fear and terror, anticipating what Allah ‘azza wa jal would do to them.
So after hearing all of this, you, who are in disagreement, or asking one another about the message of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, about the Qur’an, about the Day of Judgement, beware! There will be a Day of Reckoning. And Allah ‘azza wa jal will hold each and every one of us accountable for our actions. Allah is telling us that it will come, inevitably. It will surely be there, so be careful. You are definitely going to be there and you are not going to miss it.
The quotations from the Qur’an in this article are a rough translation of the meanings of the original text!