Tafseer of the Qur’an (Ep.-4) Surat an-Naba (Ch.-78), Verses: 3-11
We are talking about the 78th Surah, Surat an-Naba, about the great news that the disbelievers are in disagreement about. They are asking one another “What is it?” So, what is this great news that they are in disagreement about? We said that it is the message of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, that it is the Qur’an, it is the Day of Judgement, it is the horrific events on that particular day, the Day of Resurrection.
And why would they disagree? Firstly, the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came to the disbelievers, the idol worshippers, from within. For 40 years, he lived with them; he was like each and every one of them, with the exception that he did not worship the idols. He was known to be the honest and trustworthy one. They would entrust him with their money and their valuables. They would trust him in his decision-making. And they would seek his opinion in great matters. Then the revelation came to him and he declared that he was the Messenger of Allah ‘azza wa jal, and that all that they used to worship was nothing, and that they may not worship except Allah, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. He came with this message and they were in shock. They went into denial. They said, “You are a sorcerer!”, “You are a magician!”, “You are a liar!”, “You are a soothsayer!”, and “You are insane!” And they disagreed and they were in argument about what the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came with.
Allah ‘azza wa jal says in verses 4 and 5 of this Surah, “Nay! They will come to know!” (4). “Nay again! They will come to know!” (5). And this is a great warning for those who disbelieved in the message of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, for those who disbelieved in the Day of Judgement, and in what Allah ‘azza wa jal has prepared for the disbelievers and what Allah has prepared for those who believed.
And Allah azza wa jal, after doing that in the introduction to this Surah, starts to give the people eye openers. So, you are in disagreement? So, you are questioning the validity of the message of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam? You think that there is no God? You think that Allah the Almighty will not send a Messenger with His book to guide people from darkness unto light? You still doubt this? So Allah ‘azza wa jal is giving eye openers to those who do not believe in resurrection. And the people who do not believe in resurrection have a big and grave problem. Why? Well, there are 6 pillars of Iman (Faith) that we believe in. To believe in Allah ‘azza wa jal and the Day of Judgement are two of them. The belief in the Day of Judgement, that there will be accountability, is what restrains Muslims from doing bad things. For example, if there were no Day of Reckoning, no Day of Resurrection, I would not be here preaching to people! I would have been out there doing whatever I want! I would kill people, steal from people, I would become the most influential, the most feared, the wealthiest…because there are no borders, no limits to restrain me. Except the law, but if I can cheat the law, then who cares? Muslims are not like that! Even if the Muslim can cheat the law, he knows that there is a Day of Reckoning when he will have to pay for his sins. That is why those who do not believe in the existence of Allah ‘azza wa jal, those who do not believe in the Day of Resurrection are wasting their time! They are doing nothing! They are not living their life as it should be lived nor are they preparing for the other life that awaits them!
That is why Allah ‘azza wa jal is giving us eye openers. Allah ‘azza wa jal begins with, “Have we not made the earth as a bed?” (6). So, the first blessing and favor of Allah; we find that the earth in front of us is flat, as if it were a bed, prepared for people to sleep on. Do not listen to what people say because had we not known that the earth was a sphere, anyone would have told you that the earth is flat! When you recite the Qur’an, you will find evidences that there are planets and that they are round in shape. And if you recite the Qur’an, it speaks to individuals about what they see. Anyone who does not know about NASA, about space travel, would look and say that the earth is flat! And if I go from one point to another, I don’t see any curve! So the Qur’an is talking to these individuals and telling them to look around; Allah ‘azza wa jal has made the earth as a bed. And we have a saying, ‘From the cradle to the grave’, meaning, seeking knowledge starts from the cradle and ends at the grave. So, ‘al-mahad’ (a different form of the word used in the ayah) means a cradle or a bed. And this is from among the blessings and favours of Allah ‘azza wa jal upon us. If you look at the land we live on, it is not so rocky that we cannot plough on it or cultivate in it, and it is not so soft that our feet would go deep in it and we would not be able to use it. Allah ‘azza wa jal has made the whole earth for us as this bed, flat and easy to use and benefit from.
Then Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “And the mountains as pegs” (7). And what is a peg? A peg is something you put deep into the earth to hold something. So, it is like a rod. A peg is used with tents. If you look at the mountains and how Allah the Almighty has created them, they are something to ponder upon! In Surat al-Ghashiya , which we will discuss in sha Allah, Allah mentions 4 things for us to ponder upon – the camels, the heavens and the mountains and how they are erected and the earth. We often take things for granted! I once had an office, in my former company, that had a sea view. It was on a high level of the building, and had windows all around the room, so you could see the port, the sea, and the ships. It was a magnificent scene, a beautiful view! And I used to enjoy watching the expression on people’s faces when they used to come for the first time to my office! So, when anyone came in, he used to take 6-10 seconds to just stare at the view and be amazed. And I used to enjoy just watching their faces fill with the amazement. SubhanAllah! Being in that office for such a long time, I had stopped appreciating the view. I did appreciate it the first few days, and then it was like any other view. This is life. These are the blessings of Allah ‘azza wa jal; when they come to you, you may appreciate them for the first few minutes but then it becomes something of a habit…you become accustomed to them and you do not appreciate them. The mountains are like this. Allah ‘azza wa jal tells us in Surat al-Ghashiya to ponder upon the fact that these mountains were erected. In this Surah, Surat an-Naba, Allah describes them as pegs. In different verses of the Qur’an, Allah ‘azza wa jal tells us that these mountains stand firm. And geologists tell us that the plates on the surface of the earth keep on moving but we don’t see this. If they move a bit too violently, we have earthquakes. These mountains, by the Grace of Allah, stop or hold the plates from moving. That is why they are described as ‘rawasi’. These mountains are firm in holding these plates together but we fail to notice this; we take it for granted. We see these beautiful mountains so high and so strong but some may think, “So what? It’s an act of nature.” No, it is not! It is something that Allah ‘azza wa jal has planted for a reason. They are so magnificent, so strong, that Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “They ask you about the mountains, what will happen to them on the Day of Judgement? Say, ‘Allah ‘azza wa jal will blast them all and make them flat.’” One may say, “But we can do that with a ‘nuke’ and make them flat.” It’s not that easy! I used to work for another company that did mining work and one of their projects was to get down a mountain in Makkah, which is next to the Ka’bah, called Jabal ‘Umar (The Mountain of ‘Umar). It was a normal-sized mountain, not one that goes hundreds of meters into the air. However, it took us approximately a couple of years plus to blast the mountain, to excavate it, to take the debris away, and to make the place flat! That was one mountain. Look at how many hundreds and thousands of mountains there are on earth. Who did this? It is Allah the Almighty! And Allah is opening your eyes. Look around you…is there any person, any entity, any country, any nation who is capable of manufacturing one tenth of a hundredth of a thousandth of anything that you see? Don’t you then understand?
Then Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “And We have created you in pairs” (8). ‘In pairs’ means more than just a pair of a man and a woman. It also means that most things have a counterpart to them. Allah created us as male and female, old and young, beautiful and ugly, fat and thin, and black and white. People are different, although they were created from the same father and same mother, Adam and Eve. Yet, when you see the diversity, the colors, the languages, the different mentalities, the different characteristics, all this indicates towards one single thing – The Greatness of The Creator! Can’t you see? This is an eye opener! Only those whom Allah ‘azza wa jal guides will be guided. And those whom Allah’ azza wa jal wills not to guide will continue in their blindness. And they will continue in going astray! May Allah ‘azza wa jal preserve us all!
Then Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “And We have made your sleep a thing of rest” (9). This is one of Allah’s favours. Imagine if you didn’t sleep for a couple of days! How would it be? This is something we take for granted! We never appreciate that Allah ‘azza wa jal gives us a time for rest. This shows you the Greatness of Allah the Almighty! When a human being does not sleep, this is a deficiency! It is an indication that there is something wrong with the individual! But when Allah ‘azza wa jal does not sleep, it is an attribute of perfection! Because if Allah ‘azza wa jal sleeps, the whole universe would collapse! Allah the Almighty does not sleep. Allah ‘azza wa jal does not rest because He is Perfect! He does not need sleep and He does not need to rest! Humans are imperfect, and that is why if they do not sleep, it indicates deficiency and that there is something wrong with that individual! Allah ‘azza wa jal has given us the night to rest, to stop being active and to rest and recover our strength. The word ‘subata’ is derived from ‘as-sabt’ and ‘as-subat’ and it is also similar to the word ‘as-sabt’, which is Saturday or the Sabath. This is the day the Jews were ordered not to work. Alhamdulillah, as Muslims, we are exempted from such obligations.
Then Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “And We have made the night a covering through its darkness” (10). So one of the blessings of Allah ‘azza wa jal is that He has given us night-time. This is a blessing for the majority of human beings and animals! There are exceptions though; there are places with 6 months of all daytime and 6 months of all nighttime such as in the Scandinavian countries and the North Pole, etc. But the majority of human beings have proper segregation of night and day. So, Allah ‘azza wa jal has made the night to cover the people, as if it is a form of clothing. So when night falls, it covers that area with its darkness. So, it’s like a piece of cloth that wraps around the people, the communities, the countries and the land.
And then Allah ‘azza wa jal says, “And We have made the day for livelihood” (11). So, Allah ‘azza wa jal has made this the norm; people go to work in the daytime and sleep and rest at nightfall. Nevertheless, even if this is the general term, we do have people working the graveyard shift, so they might say, “Hey! This is not meant for us!” No, this is not the norm; the vast majority of people works in the daytime and rests at night. All of these are things given to us by Allah ‘azza wa jal. And people might think that they have these things and that they deserve them, that it is their God-given right while it is not. It is important to always appreciate Allah’s blessings and favours upon us. Allah says, “And if you count the blessings of Allah, you would not be able to count them.”
Daytime and nighttime, the sun rising and setting – one may say, “So what? It happens every day!” Okay, imagine yourself sitting in a room in pitch-black darkness and all of a sudden, there are lights around you that are switched on! We would literally be blinded by the sudden lights! It may even harm your eyes! It is by Allah the Almighty’s Mercy that when it is pitch black in the night, the sun does not rise all of a sudden! It takes its time…slowly and gradually. And the darkness goes away bit by bit; your eyes slowly become accustomed to it, and then you can see! This is something that we take for granted! Remember that it is from Allah ‘azza wa jal. Likewise, if I am out there in the fields ploughing or in the market doing some business or driving my car in the streets, and then suddenly, ‘Boom!’ The lights are off! You will have cars colliding, people falling into wells; you will have problems and calamities. But it is Allah’s favor and blessings upon us that the sun sets bit by bit and darkness comes little by little until our eyes become accustomed to it and we can see.
These are the favours of Allah ‘azza wa jal that we take for granted and never ponder upon! When you recite these verses and Allah ‘azza wa jal points out certain things as His favours upon you, open your eyes: appreciate them, acknowledge His Greatness, Knowledge and Mercy and recognize His favours and blessings upon you! When you do this, you attain true belief and conviction and you draw closer to Allah ‘azza wa jal because now you are appreciating Allah ‘azza wa jal, who created you, unlike those disbelievers who do not appreciate, who object to Allah’s Decrees, “Why did He do this?” or “Why him and why not me? (if it is something good) or “Why me and not him?” (if it is something bad). They keep on complaining and whining, not knowing that it is Allah the Almighty Who created us, He is the One Who tests us, and He is the One Who will reward us with Paradise, if we succeed, or punish us with Hell, if we fail.
So, wouldn’t it be wise for you to ponder upon this?
The quotations from the Qur’an and Hadiths in this article are a rough translation of the meanings of the original text!