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Chapter 101:
Al-Qari'ah — The Calamity:

Revealed at Makkah: 11 verses

English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali


Introduction:

The repelling Calamity of this chapter, which gives it its title, is the same as the shaking of the last chapter but one. The date of revelation is also about the same.

Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

101:1 The calamity!

101:2 What is the calamity?

101:3 And what will make thee know how terrible is the calamity?a

101:4 The day wherein men will be as scattered moths,

101:5 And the mountains will be as carded wool.a

101:6 Then as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is heavy,

101:7 He will live a pleasant life.

101:8 And as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is light,

101:9 The abyss is a mother to him.a

101:10   And what will make thee know what that is?

101:11   A burning Fire.

Commentary:

3a. Al-Qari‘ah (from qar‘, meaning striking with severity) signifies a very great calamity, and the word occurs without the definite article al in 13:31, where it is said: “And as for those who disbelieve, disaster (qari‘ah) will not cease to afflict them ... until the promise of Allah come to pass”. This use of the word qari‘ah shows that the word signifies one of those great calamities which befell the Quraish from time to time, and al is added to indicate that it is the promised calamity. In 69:4, al-qari‘ah signifies the great calamity which destroys a nation, i.e., their doom. Al-qari‘ah is also a name of the day of Resurrection or of the great Calamity which will destroy this earth, after which comes the Resurrection.

5a. This description may also apply to the doom of the opponents of Truth; see 13:31a.

9a. Hawiyah (from hawa, he made it to fall down) signifies a deep place of which the bottom cannot be reached or abyss (LL). The word umm means primarily a mother, and in all secondary significances some idea of the primary significance is retained. Thus among its various secondary significances are source, origin, foundation, support, efficient cause of subsistence, anything to which other things are collected together, the main part of a thing, a man who has charge of the food and service of a people (LL). A place of habitation or abode is also called umm (LL), because it grants protection to a man, as does the mother to a babe. The abyss, or hell, is here called a mother to indicate that man’s connection with hell is similar to that of a baby with its mother, viz., that his abode there fits him for progress in the spiritual world — he being brought up, as it were, in the bosom of hell, as a child is brought up in the bosom of its mother, and that his stay in hell is only for a time, as the child draws nourishment from his mother only for a time.

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