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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 54 (Al-Qamar- The Moon) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 22)



Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 22]: Judgment to overtake opponents:
Chapter 54: (Al-Qamar: The Moon)
(Revealed at Makkah: 3 sections; 55 verses)

1. Introduction:

The Moon — the word occurring in the first verse and giving its title to this chapter — was a symbol of the power of the Arabs. As the chapter deals with the destruction of the opponents of Truth, its title is appropriately taken from the miracle of the rending asunder of the moon, which indicated the overthrow of the power of the Quraish; see 1a. The first section, after warning the opponents of the Holy Prophet, contains mention of Noah and ‘Ad, the second of Thamud and Lot’s people. The third, after a brief reference to Pharaoh and his hosts, contains a prophetical reference to the battle of Badr, which was to humble the power of the Quraish. It is undoubtedly an early Makkan revelation.

2. Translation:

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

1 The hour drew nigh and the moon was rent asunder.a

2 And if they see a sign, they turn away and say: Strong enchantment!a

3 And they deny and follow their low desires; and every affair is settled.a

4 And certainly narratives have come to them, which should detera

5 Consummate wisdom — but warnings avail not;

6 So turn away from them. On the day when the Inviter invites them to a hard task —

7 Their eyes cast down, they will go forth from their graves as if they were scattered locusts,

8 Hastening to the Inviter. The disbelievers will say: This is a hard day!a

9 Before them the people of Noah rejected — they rejected Our servant and called (him) mad, and he was driven away.

10 So he called upon his Lord: I am overcome, so do Thou help.

11 Then We opened the gates of heaven with water pouring down,

12 And made water to flow forth in the land in springs, so the water gathered together according to a measure already ordained.

13 And We bore him on that which was made of planks and nails,

14 Floating on, before Our eyes — a reward for him who was denied.a

15 And certainly We left it as a sign, but is there any that will mind?a

16 How (terrible) was then My chastisement and My warning!

17 And certainly We have made the Qur’an easy to remember, but is there any one who will mind?

18 ‘Ad denied, so how terrible was My chastisement and My warning!

19 Surely We sent on them a furious wind in a day of bitter ill-luck,

20 Tearing men away as if they were the trunks of palm-trees torn up.

21 How (terrible) was then My chastisement and My warning!

22 And certainly We have made the Qur’an easy to remember, but is there any one who will mind?

3. Commentary:

1a. The "rending asunder of the moon" in the time of the Holy Prophet is an incident elated by a number of his companions; and the reports of this incident are classed as mashhur (well-known) (Rz), and are accepted as correct by Bukhari and Muslim. Ibn Athir says: "The incident is narrated in mutawatir (successively repeated) hadith with sahih isnad (sound transmission)". While the main fact is thus undisputed, there are some differences as to details. IMsd says that he saw the peak of Mount Hira’ interposing between the two parts. I‘Ab says that one of the two parts remained, while the other disappeared (Kf). Answering the objection to the possibility of such an unusual incident, Rz concludes from the different versions of the report that it was a kind of lunar eclipse, and the appearance of something in the form of half the moon in the firmament. The best authorities, however, agree that there is no reason to doubt the trustworthiness of the report, and that the same incident is referred to here. In the whole history of miracles, this is the only miracle of which a contemporaneous record exists. It thus stands unique even among the miracles of the Holy Prophet.

Some commentators are, however, of opinion that the verse under discussion refers to the rending asunder of the moon at the approach of the day of Judgment. There is also a suggestion that inshaqqa-l-qamaru means the matter has become manifest, the reason given being that the Arabs used to set forth the example of the moon for an affair becoming manifest, as the morning is spoken of as falaq, literally a split, fissure, or cleft (AH). R explains the phrase under the root shaqq as bearing any of the following three significances: "One explanation of the phrase is that the moon was rent asunder in the Holy Prophet’s time; another, that the rending would be brought about at the approach of the Judgment day; and a third, that the meaning is that the affair became manifest".

It may, thus, have been a particular kind of lunar eclipse, the moon appearing as if it were cloven into two, a part remaining bright and the other part darkening, this being the meaning of one part disappearing and the other remaining, or some great commotion might have taken place in the moon or some other unusual phenomenon may have occurred, which might have been made apparent to the naked eye through the strong visionary power of the Prophet. [Back to verse 1]

2a. By calling it strong enchantment, they meant to indicate that it was a strong magical illusion, not an actual occurrence. But the word mustamirr, which is here translated as strong, may also mean transient, i.e., a thing which has occurred and passed away, or continuous in the sense that such things have been taking place of old. [Back to verse 2]

3a. According to Qatadah the meaning is those who deserve good will meet with good, and those who deserve evil will meet with evil; or the meaning is that the truth will be established, and become manifest, and falsehood will pass away (AH). Or, the words mean that every affair must draw to an end, the reference being to the opposition which was being offered to the Prophet. [Back to verse 3]

4a. The fate of the ancients, of whom narratives are recited, should have prevented the opponents of Truth from following in their footsteps. [Back to verse 4]

8a. The commentators make all verses of this description apply to the life after death, but comparison with the fate of other people, whose stories are narrated by way of illustration, shows clearly that the punishment of this life is also meant. The hard day of trouble overtakes the opponents of Truth in this life as well, and the Hereafter only brings it in a more palpable, and therefore more terrible, form. The Inviter is the Prophet, who invites them to truth, and the graves as applying to this life may signify their homes because they were spiritually dead. [Back to verse 8]

14a. The boat in which Noah and his companions were saved — spoken of in the previous verse as a thing made of ordinary planks and nails — is here described as floating on before Our eyes, meaning that it was the mercy of God that saved the boat. [Back to verse 14]

15a. The fate of Noah’s people is a sign to the deniers of the Holy Prophet. Compare 51:37– 46, where a sign is said to be left in the people of Noah, in Moses’ enemies, in ‘Ad and in Thamud. Of late, reports have been published in certain newspapers that parts of Noah’s ark have been discovered in the snowy regions of a certain mountain, but it is difficult to say what truth there is in these reports. [Back to verse 15]



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Chapter 53: Al-Najm (The Star)

Chapter 55: Al-Rahman (The Beneficent)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 54 (Al-Qamar- The Moon) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 22)

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