Tafseer of the Qur’an (Ep.-6) Surat an-Naba’ (Ch.-78), Verses: 18-30
Last time we met, we were discussing chapter 78 of the Qur’an, Surat an-Naba, and the last verse we discussed was verse 17:
إِنَّ يَوْمَ ٱلْفَصْلِ كَانَ مِيقَٰتًا
“Verily, the Day of Decision is a fixed time,” (17)
Allah ‘azza wa jall explains to us what will happen on that day. Allah says in ayah 18:
يَوْمَ يُنفَخُ فِى ٱلصُّورِ فَتَأْتُونَ أَفْوَاجًا
“The Day when the Trumpet will be blown, and you shall come forth in crowds (groups);” (18)
So, there will be two blows in the trumpet: one that would end life and the second that would resurrect everyone from their graves. And they shall come in crowds. And who is responsible for blowing the trumpet? It is the Angel by the name of Israfeel. The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam told us about this particular angel, that he has put the trumpet in his mouth, anticipating Allah’s order to blow in it. And he doesn’t blink so that he would not miss even a split of a second to execute Allah’s order.
So Allah tells us that this is the Day of Decision, when the trumpet would be blown and you shall come forth in crowds, in groups. And part of what will happen on that horrific day is mentioned in verse 19 where Allah says:
وَفُتِحَتِ ٱلسَّمَآءُ فَكَانَتْ أَبْوَٰبًا
“And the heaven shall be opened, and it will become as gates,” (19)
So the first sign of ‘universal change’ is that the gates of the heavens will be opened. The heavens will start to crack and open until they turn into pieces. This perfection that we see above us would all change. There are many different verses describing what will happen to the skies above us. In this one, Allah is telling us that it would become like open doors and that it will turn into pieces so that everyone would come and enter from it, in a way that we do not understand. Allah ‘azza wa jall says after that:
وَسُيِّرَتِ ٱلْجِبَالُ فَكَانَتْ سَرَابًا
“And the mountains shall be moved away from their places and they will be as if they were a mirage.” (20)
On that horrific day, the mountains shall be moved away from their places. What would move such a big and huge mountain that is millions of tons in weight? Well, not only that they shall be moved from their places but they will become as if they were a mirage. This is when they are blasted and flattened, when they will turn into soft particles – they will be so soft that they will fly away and move out as if they were a mirage, something that you can’t hold on to. Allah ‘azza wa jall then tells us:
إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادًا
“Truly, Hell is a place of ambush,” (21)
Hell, on that day, is going to anticipate and wait for those who will come near it and will fall into it. We all know that there is a bridge on Hell known as as-Sirāt, meaning ‘the path’. And its description is very scary and intimidating: it’s as sharp as a blade and as thin as a hair. Every believer, and anyone who claims to be a believer, must pass over that bridge. So idol-worshippers will not pass, they will be thrown in Hell in the very beginning. Those who used to worship people, the Messengers of Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala, those who disbelieved in the message of the Prophets and the Messengers would be thrown into Hell right away. The only people remaining would be the believers and those who claim to be believers from among the hypocrites. So the Muslims will be there, the people who believed in Jesus as the Messenger of Allah when he came to them will be there, and the people who followed Moses until the time of Jesus, because after the time of Jesus, they must have followed Jesus, and if they did not they would be considered disbelievers. So the people from the time of Moses onwards till the time of Jesus will be there. People would then start walking on that bridge. It will be pitch black. People will be given light in accordance to their deeds. So, if people had great deeds, they will have spot lights that would show them the way and lead them on the path. And those who had little good deeds, they will have little light. The least of them would have light in their toes; and this is the least. The people will also vary in their speed while crossing that bridge. Some of them will be as fast as lightening, others will be as fast as wind, others will be as fast as someone riding a very fast horse, others will be as fast as riding a camel, others will be jogging, some others will be walking, and there will be others who had little good deeds who will be crawling. And those who are unfortunate, those who have sins and problems, they will walk but they will get caught in the hooks that will be coming out of Hell and they will trip and fall into it. Beware: “Truly, Hell is a place of ambush,” (21) And who is Hell going to ambush? Allah says:
“A dwelling place for the Thaghoon (those who transgress the boundary limits set by Allah like the polytheists, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, hypocrites, sinners, criminals),” (22)
A dwelling place for the Thagoon- those who transgress the boundaries and limits set by Allah, like the polytheists, the disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, the hypocrites, the sinners, the criminals. These are all different kinds of transgression. Transgression has many forms. The more you transgress, the more you are likely to be ambushed by Hell. One of the worst kinds of transgression is when you transgress against others in their wealth, livelihood and in their health and blood. So, the more you transgress in these things, the likelier you are to be ambushed by Hell and to enter it. The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam in his Farewell Hajj said that the Muslims’ wealth, their life (that is their blood), and their reputation and honor – all these three things are Haraam for one another. We can’t transgress each other in these things. You can’t see your neighbor’s beautiful car and steal it from him. Just because you hate someone you can’t go and kill him or shed his blood. You can’t backbite people and attack their honor or transgress against their families, against their wives, daughters, etc. All of this have been made forbidden. And the more you have of these, the likelier it is that you will go to Hell. And no matter how hard you try to get out, every time you try to get out, you’ll go back into it over and over again. But for how long? Allah says:
لّبِثِينَ فِيهَآ أَحْقَابًا
“They will abide therein for ages,” (23)
They will be stuck there for ages. And this made people wonder: are they going to be there for ages and then eventually come out and go to Paradise? The answer is “No”. The disbelievers will be in Hell for eternity. They will be there forever. Every time an age is over, another age will begin and so on till eternity. So the torment and punishment is forever. And likewise, those who are blessed to go to Paradise, will be there forever as well.
Now, this is when it comes to believers and disbelievers. What about if we have sinful believers? In this case, they will go to Hell for a specific amount of time – it could be hours, days, years or centuries – Allah knows, depending on their transgression and sins. They are Muslims in principle, they have the Shahadah, they have their submission, they had surrendered their will to Allah’s Will but they were sinful. Those who are going to enter Paradise must first be purified from their sins. They can’t enter Paradise without purification. Therefore, if Allah ‘azza wa jall Wills it, they would have to enter Hell. They would be purified from their sins, they would have to pay for their sins, and after they are purified, Allah would admit them into Paradise. There would be people whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’aala would Forgive but no one can guarantee to be among them. That is why we should ask Allah ‘azza wa jall for His Forgiveness. We should repent before it’s too late. And we should express our true and sincere remorse so that Allah ‘azza wa jall would Forgive us.
So the people who have transgressed will be in Hellfire or Jahannum for ages without end. Now let’s look at some of the torments or punishments of Allah ‘azza wa jall for the people of Hell. Allah says:
لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا
“Nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink.” (24)
Allah ‘azza wa jall says that there isn’t anything for them in Hell to cool off with, and nothing for them to drink that would bring coolness to them. Sometimes, when you are fasting, you can’t just go and have a cold drink with ice in it. However, you can at least enjoy the coolness of it to reduce the heat that you are feeling. This is not applicable in Hellfire. There is nothing but torture in it. So, neither can they get coolness from cool things nor can they drink to relieve themselves from the thirst and heat.
However, we know that they will be given something to drink. Allah ‘azza wa jall tells us:
إِلَّا حَمِيمًا وَغَسَّاقًا
“Except boiling water, and dirty wound discharges.” (25)
So, they will not taste coolness, they will not get any drink except boiling water which is ‘hameem’. And not only that, they will be given another drink which is dirty wound discharges. By far, this is a horrible torment and punishment. But if someone says, “Why is it so hard? Why is it so painful? Why are they being punished so much?”; the answer would be as Allah ‘azza wa jall says:
“An exact recompense (according to their evil crimes).” (26)
It is an exact recompense according to their evil crimes. So, they are being punished because of what they had done. And if they say, “What have we done? We didn’t do anything wrong!”; the answer would be, “Yes, you have done so.” Allah says in the Qur’an:
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا۟ لَا يَرْجُونَ حِسَابًا
“For verily, they used not to look for a reckoning.” (27)
Now this was the biggest mistake. The majority of people are like this. They live their lives. They go to bed, they wake up, they do so many things during the day and night – not knowing that they will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. This is something that they don’t think of. All some people care about is how much they are going to make at the end of week. How much is their paycheck. Did I manage to the most beautiful girl in town to be my wife or to be my girlfriend? Did I have a good time? Did I succeed in cheating someone off his wealth? Did I manage to lie my way up in the pay grade? Did I get a good position? Did I do this, did I do that? What about what you’ll get on the Day of Judgment? What about the things that you are going to be held accountable for? Many people don’t think of that unfortunately. “For verily, they used not to look for a reckoning.” This is how most of us are unfortunately. We are heedless of this reckoning, even if we don’t admit it. That is why we sin, and sin, and continue to sin until we die.
About 20 years ago, one of my brother-in-law’s friends came to visit. He was going to travel to the USA to study to become a pilot. When he came to visit me, I gave him some advice and a friendly reminder about taking care of himself, preserving his prayers, being wary of people who would love to make him fall into sins, etc. He responded to this by saying, “Listen, I will be frank with you Sheikh. If I do what you are telling me to do and refrain from all the things that are entertaining and nice; and stick to praying and things that are hard to do, and then after I die and I want to go to paradise, I discover that all of this (the Islamic beliefs about the Hereafter) was a myth. I find neither Paradise nor Hell after I die. What did I gain? I wasted a perfectly good 60 years of my life being pious and righteous only to discover that it was all a myth! No Paradise – I was fooled. Wouldn’t that be a tragedy?” I looked him in the eye and said, “Indeed it would. But look at the other way around. What would happen if you don’t pray, don’t abide by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, play around, have one-night stands every night, drink intoxicants and enjoy your life “to the fullest”, as they say, only to end up dying and being taken to Hell because of all the wrong things that you have done? How would you feel then?” The man looked down and said, “I hadn’t thought of it this way.” I said, “Yes, Shaitan only makes you think of one way. Look around you; look at the universe. Look in your body, the perfection with which Allah has Created you and Created universe. All this definitely points to Him, that He is the Creator and the only One to be worshipped, and no one else is to be worshipped besides Him. If you recite the Qur’an and ponder upon it, you’ll understand, and you’ll believe that Allah is the Creator. That Allah is the One Who revealed the Qur’an to His Messenger salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. And the religion of Islam is the only religion accepted in the sight of Allah. Therefore, because of that, you have to believe that there is a Day of Reckoning.” Alhamdulillah, the man understood what I meant, and he was convinced of what I had said. May Allah ‘azza wa jall Guide us and him to the Right Path.
Therefore, these people are being punished so severely because of their disbelief in the existence of the Day of Reckoning. Allah says:
وَكَذَّبُوا۟ بِـَٔايَٰتِنَا كِذَّابًا
“But they belied Our Ayaat [proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, and that which Our Prophet (peace be upon him) brought] completely.” (28)
An ‘ayat’ has two meanings:
– It means the universal signs. Hence, the sun, the moon and the universe are all ayaat. There are many signs (ayaat) of Allah around us.
– It also means the verses of the Qur’an. And those disbelievers belied both. So, they say that the Sun is created by ‘mother nature’. That this universe is something that happened by coincidence, by chance. And they also belied the verses of the Qur’an. They rejected the Prophets and the Messengers. They rejected the Divine Books of Allah ‘azza wa jall and the miracles that He had sent. Allah tells them:
وَكُلَّ شَىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَٰهُ كِتَٰبًا
“And all things We have recorded in a Book.” (29)
Everything that you do is recorded in a book that doesn’t leave a single iota out. That’s why when the disbelievers will be shown their records on the Day of Judgment they will say, “What is this? Why is everything recorded? Everything, small or big is recorded! Nothing that we had said and nothing that we had done is left out!” As Allah ‘azza wa jall said in Surat al-Mujadalah (58), ayah 6: “…Allah has kept account of it, while they have forgotten it…” How many times someone asks you, “You remember a couple of years ago you did this or that?” And you say, “No, I don’t remember…” Well, Allah ‘azza wa jall remembers. And not only that, Allah ‘azza wa jall has it recorded in a book that you will see on the Day of Judgment. And then the punishment for the wrong-doers would be as Allah says in the Qur’an:
فَذُوقُوا۟ فَلَن نَّزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا
“So taste you (the results of your evil actions); no increase shall We give you, except in torment.” (30)