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Chapter 102:
Al-Takathur — The Abundance of Wealth:

Revealed at Makkah: 8 verses

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


Introduction:

This chapter, which is appropriately entitled The Abundance of Wealth, from the occurrence of the word abundance in the first verse, states that vying one with another to have wealth and more wealth is the great impediment which keeps men away from the real object of life; and therefore, to make them realize it, it is sometimes necessary to divest them of some of these comforts. It is for this reason that Divine wisdom sometimes requires disasters to be brought upon men. Hence this chapter is closely connected with the previous chapters, which speak of disasters. The truth of what is stated here was never so clearly realised by the world as it is today. The chapter is one of the earliest revelations.

Translation:

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

102:1 Abundance diverts you,

102:2 Until you come to the graves.a

102:3 Nay, you will soon know,

102:4 Nay, again, you will soon know.

102:5 Nay, would that you knew with a certain knowledge!a

102:6 You will certainly see hell;

102:7 Then you will see it with certainty of sight;

102:8 Then on that day you shall certainly be questioned about the boons.a

Commentary:

2a. Takathur (from kathura, it became abundant or multiplied) means contending together for superiority in (the amount or number of) property or children or men (LL). According to Rz, the measure of tafa‘ul stands sometimes for the fi‘l itself, and takathur thus may mean increase or abundance of wealth, etc. Coming to the graves stands for death. The significance therefore is that vying one with another in increase of wealth diverts a man from the real object of life until he meets death.

5a. When a man dies, he then comes to know that the acquisition of wealth was in no way the real object of his life. But if he had proceeded on the basis of certain knowledge, he could have seen this in this very life.

8a. Verses 5–8 are considered as disclosing three degrees of certainty — ‘ilm al-yaqin, ‘ain al-yaqin and haqq al-yaqin, i.e., certainty by inference, certainty by sight and certainty by realization. A man can by inference attain to a certainty of the existence of hell in this very life (vv. 5 and 6); after his death he will see hell with his own eyes (v. 7); but a perfect manifestation of it will be realized by him on the day of Resurrection (v. 8). Being questioned about the boons implies tasting of the punishment for failing to make right use of what was granted to man. But the words may also be taken as applying to this life. By pondering on the very nature of evil a man can become certain of hell, this being the certainty by inference. Then he can acquire a certain knowledge by sight, by seeing the fate of others. Lastly, he is made to realise it by disasters being brought upon himself.

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