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of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat
82 (Al-Infitar - The Cleaving)
Holy Quran Section > Commentary of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat Ahmad > Chapter 82 (Al-Infitar - The Cleaving)
of Chapter 82 (Al-Infitar - The Cleaving) of the Holy
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
1. When the heaven is cleft asunder,
This is an early Makkan chapter, and like the preceding one, Al-Takwir (The Folding Up), it proves, through prophecies, that man will have to account for his deeds. There is one difference, though. In the previous chapter (The Folding Up), the fulfilment of the glorious prophecies mentioned there relate to the Last Age, whilst the extraordinary signs contained in this chapter (The Cleaving) were relevant to the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Their fulfilment was clearly witnessed in his lifetime and their glory and grandeur were also extended to the centuries that immediately followed his advent. As mentioned several times before, prophecies are couched in subtle, metaphorical language and their true significance is disclosed only at the time of their fulfilment.
1. When the heaven is cleft asunder,
This verse carries a deep metaphorical meaning. That is, the heavens will rain signs and divine help as if they were created for that purpose and were only awaiting the command of their Lord, and when the time was ripe, so torrential would be this downpour of divine signs and heavenly help as if a huge vessel were broken and had scattered its contents far and wide.
2. And when the stars become dispersed.
This, too, is another subtle metaphor. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: "My Companions are like the stars." They were likened to stars because they were filled with the heavenly light which the Holy Prophet brought. The meaning is that when these showers of divine assistance and heavenly signs fall upon the earth and Islam becomes triumphant, then another sign will come into effect and that is the heavenly stars, that is, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, and other Muslims who will be filled with this same light, will travel all over the earth to disperse this divine light, that is, to propagate the religion of Islam world-wide.
3. And when the rivers are made to flow forth.
Rivers in figurative language refer to knowledge. That is, rivers of knowledge will flow in abundance all over the world. This third sign tells us that as the Companions traverse the earth and spread the religion they will also initiate a flood of knowledge and wisdom in every sphere of human endeavour. In addition, the Arab nation will be the blessed community that will teach the world knowledge and science and will inspire and lay the foundation of a new civilisation and culture.
4. And when the graves are laid open.
That is, the dead will come alive. In other words, those people who were suffering a death of illiteracy, barbarism and misguidance, and were buried in the grave of ignorance and paganism, would receive a life (of faith and knowledge). And wherever the message of Islam will reach, one will find there a resuscitating breath of life breathed into erstwhile savages.
Bear in mind that these four hidden signs mentioned here were prophesied at a time when Islam was in its infancy and was undergoing a period of extreme destitution and helplessness. How vividly they unfolded in just a few years and how rapidly Islam occupied the world stage have been written large in golden letters on the pages of world history.
5. Every soul will know what it has sent before and what it has held back.
After describing the four signs above, Allah, Most High, then says that if those signs turn out to be true, then, consequently, it is also true that every man will be shown the results of his actions, whether he sees them in the future life or, whether as a doer of good deeds, he has left behind him a mark of his benevolence. And it is beyond dispute that these four prophecies mentioned above indeed constitute the beautiful legacy that the Islamic community bequeathed to the world.
It has already been mentioned in chapter 78 (Al-Naba -- The Announcement), that the age of every prophet or messenger provides us, in a small measure, with a picture of the day of Resurrection so that people may witness with their own eyes the results of their actions in this life, and that this may further strengthen their faith in the Great Resurrection when man will witness the full manifestation of the consequences of his deeds.
This is why Allah has used in the Holy Quran the word As-Sa'ah (The Hour), which is another name for the day of Resurrection, to depict the success of the virtuous and the destruction and failure of the wicked in the very lifetime of the Messenger. Allah's purpose in affording man this preview is really for it to serve as an incontestable proof of the Great Resurrection. In other words, when, in accordance with Allah's design, the results of deeds are disclosed in this very life and everyone, good or bad, receives his just recompense -- a fact which was foretold before the event -- then, if it is also revealed beforehand that in the next life, good and evil will each acquire its corresponding reward in the fullest measure, than what alternative is there but to accept the truth of Allah's promise?
Indeed, we have witnessed the true fulfilment of these matters in this life and we have seen with our own eyes the repercussions of both good and evil. Thus, according to Allah's plans, whatever goodness the group of Holy Companions worked, and whatever footprints they left behind, serve to prove that they were a community with exalted morals and great beneficence, and in the next world their deeds will bear immeasurable fruit. Forcefully indicated also is the fact that man's every deed contains its own consequence whether it becomes visible in this world or in the next.
Thus, man ought to be very circumspect concerning his actions and should conduct himself in such a way that not only does he send forth good for the next world but also leaves behind a legacy of goodness in his wake.
6. O man, what beguiles thee from thy Lord, the Gracious?
This means that man is born in this world and quickly forgets the purpose of his creation and his attention is riveted solely on satisfying his animal desires, like eating, drinking and other sensual passions. He drifts away from his Lord Who brought him into being in order to shower His Rabubiyyat (Providence) on him, that is, to lead him to acquire, step by step, all-round progress and perfection, and Who, in His infinite generosity, bestowed on him such resources and talents as to make him attain the highest excellence and so become an honoured servant of his generous and noble Lord.
This is the same Lord Who created him and fashioned him in the best make. That is, whatever faculties were bestowed on him were the most appropriate, the most suitable and the most perfect so that he could attain to the fullest degree the purpose of his creation. Further, He fashioned him in the right measure. In other words, man's advancement is dependent on moderation and balance which are free from extremes and which his Creator has embedded in his very nature (fitrah).
Thus, if man focuses his attention on his noble and magnanimous Lord, that is, if he always keeps in mind the fact that his Lord has created him to acquire excellence and perfection, and if he ponders over his creation and realises the extent of the sublime qualities with which he has been blessed and he should then follow the path of moderation, then there is no limit to the excellences and degrees of perfection he can acquire. Yet, unfortunately, he does not suppress his sensual desires and animal passions in favour of his spiritual perfection and progress in the next life. Further, he must never ever turn away from obedience to his Lord, for herein lies the secret of his nobility.
8. Into whatever form He pleases, He casts thee.
That is, the diversity in form and appearance is, in Allah's wisdom, a wonderful and extraordinary matter. This is so to enable human beings to recognise one another and to develop their unique personalities. Regardless of the shape in which Allah, Most High, has cast each person, the same path to spiritual perfection is equally available to everyone, whether black or white, or handsome or not. Further, no one can prevent another from travelling on this path of spiritual perfection, which is the purpose of life on earth.
9. Nay, but you give the lie to the Judgement.
In other words, nothing has really deceived man from the straight path. Indeed, the true cause of his deviation is that he feels no fear for the responsibility and consequences of his deeds. If he were sure that a day would surely come when he would be requited for his deeds, then he would never be disobedient to his gracious Lord. The result of his refusal to believe in the certainty of retribution on a day of punishment has led him to the pit of heedlessness and disobedience. And this is, in truth, a denial by way of deeds of the day of Judgement. However, man should always remember that his actions will not be lost, for every deed is well-guarded in a safe record.
10. And surely there are keepers over you,
In other words, Allah has appointed such keepers who record the deeds of man and they never allow any action to be lost. Instead, they keep on recording every single thing. Those keepers are noble and venerable angels who are quite unlike some wicked officers of this world's secret police who write down whatever evidence they feel to. On the contrary, whatever those pure recorders write is completely genuine and trustworthy. Today, in this scientific age, the latest researches have disclosed that no word or action of man is ever lost. Instead, everything is being continuously recorded in the sound waves of the ether. If we can devise a means by which we can read these records, then we will be able to read the complete history of the world, and whatever habitation we choose to examine, we will be able to tell what work was done there and what words were spoken there.
Uspan, an English Muslim convert and former editor of the Outlook and the Light (two magazines), has made an incisive remark on this matter, boldly declaring that the day the records conserved in the book of nature are decoded the result would be the immediate collapse of Christianity, for the false stories relating to the Godhead of the Messiah, Prophet Jesus, and his being taken up alive to heaven will be exposed and consequently the doctrines of the Trinity and the Atonement will vanish from the face of the earth.
In short, scientists are engaged in the task of discovering means by which we can read the record of nature and they may or they may not succeed. In any case, that record is in the possession of Allah -- a record from which no word or deed of ours will be concealed or omitted. Thus, the result of this will be as follows:
13. Surely, the righteous are in bliss,
That is, the hell which they are making with their own hands through their evil deeds is ever present with them in this life, but they are blind to it. However, after death, on the day of Requital, they will perceive it with certainty of sight, and that is the Fire that they will enter.
17. And what will make thee realise what the day of Judgement is?
The repetition of this question is a form of linguistic style, the purpose being to make clear the importance of the subject matter and also to highlight the horror and the grandeur of that day of Judgement.
19. The day when no soul controls aught for another soul. And the command on that day is Allah's.
Power and command are always in the hands of Allah, but here the objective is to draw attention to the fact that, in this life, Allah has given man the gift of choice: to do good or not to, or to help one another in some way or the other, or to confer benefit on others or to defend them. However, on the day when the results of deeds are disclosed, no one will have the option to bear the consequences of his deeds patiently or not, neither will anyone be able to save another from punishment, nor be of help to another in any way. This is why the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) warned his daughter, Lady Fatimah (rta), in the following words:
"Dear daughter, on the day of Resurrection, it will avail you naught that I am your father. It is only your deeds that will be of use to you."
of the Holy Quran by Dr. Basharat
82 (Al-Infitar - The Cleaving)