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Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 73 (Al-Muzzammil- The One Covering Himself Up) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 19)


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Section/Ruku 1 [Verses 1 to 19]: The Prophet enjoined to pray:
Chapter 73: (Al-Muzzammil: The One Covering Himself Up)
(Revealed at Makkah: 2 section; 20 verses)

1. Introduction:

This chapter receives its title from the Holy Prophet’s description in the first verse as one who had covered himself up. The various significances of that word are given in the footnote on that verse, but, having regard to the subject-matter of this chapter, which enjoins prayer, the word Muzzammil signifies One who has prepared himself for prayer. The chapter opens with an injunction to the Holy Prophet to pass the night in prayer, ending with a general injunction to all believers to be ever mindful of prayer. The latter part of the first section enjoins the Holy Prophet to bear patiently the ill-treatment of his enemies, who would soon receive their due punishment, as did Pharaoh when he wanted to destroy Moses. The previous chapter promises protection to the Prophet, and the Prophet is here told to seek that protection through prayer, especially prayer during the night.

The revelation of this chapter belongs to the early Makkan period, and the commentators generally think it to be one of the earliest revelations, being, according to some, the third in order of revelation. General opinion, however, represents the last verse, which forms the second section of this chapter, to have been revealed at Madinah because fighting in the way of Allah is mentioned there. But see 20b, where it is shown that the reference may be prophetical, and therefore that verse may also belong to the same early period.

2. Translation:

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

1 O thou covering thyself up!a

2 Rise to pray by night except a little,

3 Half of it, or lessen it a little,

4 Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an in a leisurely manner.

5 Surely We shall charge thee with a weighty word.a

6 The rising by night is surely the firmest way to tread and most effective in speech.a

7 Truly thou hast by day prolonged occupation.

8 And remember the name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with (complete) devotion.

9 The Lord of the East and the West — there is no God but He — so take Him for Protector.

10 And bear patiently what they say and forsake them with a becoming withdrawal.

11 And leave Me and the deniers, possessors of plenty, and respite them a little.

12 Surely with Us are heavy fetters and a flaming Fire,

13 And food that chokes and a painful chastisement.

14 On the day when the earth and the mountains quake and the mountains become (as) heaps of sand let loose.a

15 Surely We have sent to you a Messenger, a witness against you, as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh.a

16 But Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger, so We seized him with a violent grip.

17 How, then, if you disbelieve, will you guard yourselves on the day which will make children grey-headed?

18 The heaven being rent asunder thereby. His promise is ever fulfilled.a

19 Surely this is a Reminder; so let him, who will, take a way to his Lord.

3. Commentary:

1a. Zammala means he wrapped him in his garments, and tazammala, he wrapped himself up in his garments (LL). The Prophet is here called Muzzammil, originally, mutazammil, one who had wrapped himself up in his garments. The ordinary explanation is that the Prophet wrapped himself up in his clothes on receiving the Call, his first revelation. He is reported to have come back home trembling after his first spiritual experience, and to have said to his wife zammilu-ni, zammilu-ni, cover me, cover me (B. 1:1). But various other explanations are given and some take it as an allusion to his preparation for prayers. The Prophet’s own words, as recorded in Bukhari, make it clear that the reference here is to his covering himself up on receiving the first revelation. He is in fact told that he should not fear or tremble on account of the tremendous responsibility placed on him of reforming humanity, but should seek the help of God, through prayer to Him, the most effective prayer being prayer in the night, when the world is asleep. [Back to verse 1]

5a. Being burdened with the guidance of the whole world was indeed a weighty word, the weightiest word with which any human being has been charged in the whole history of humanity. [Back to verse 5]

6a. The praying at night is here described as being firstly the firmest way to tread — to tread the way of Life, to tread upon all evil inclinations — and, secondly, the most effective in speech — what one says to other people becomes most effective. The speaker, the inviter to Truth, has his heart strengthened with force Divine through his lengthened devotions in the still of the night, and his word therefore carries the Divine force with it and enters the hearts of those who listen to him. Thus the night devotion, we are told, gives a man the strength to do the greatest deeds and makes him perfect, giving him at the same time strength to make others perfect because his words, coming out of a sincere heart, which bows to none but God, carry conviction to the hearts of others. Thus was the Prophet fortified doubly, in his deeds as well as in his words, to carry his message to other people, and thus should his true followers try to get strength from the same Divine source in the dead of night, when all veils between man and God are removed by utter silence prevailing everywhere, the only cry being the cry of the devotee. The Divine light in its full brilliance then illumines the heart of man and the heart of man reflects that light and illumines the world. [Back to verse 6]

14a. Vv. 12–14 speak of the wretched condition in which the present possessors of ease and plenty would find themselves, and how the great obstacles to the spread of truth would be removed before the advance of Truth; see 20:105a. [Back to verse 14]

15a. The Holy Prophet’s likeness to Moses is stated in the clearest terms in this, one of the earliest revelations, and thus the Holy Prophet’s claim to be the promised prophet of Deut. 18:18, who is expressly stated to be the "like" of Moses, is as old as his revelation. [Back to verse 15]

18a. Note the clear and decided tone of these verses, which at so early a period warned the opponents of the evil fate which they were destined to meet. The horrors of that day are spoken of as making children grey-headed and rending heaven asunder. The commentators admit that it is an allegorical description of the horrors of the day, for you say, speaking of a terrible day, that it is a day which makes grey the forelocks of children (Rz). The coupling of this decidedly allegorical description with the rending asunder of heaven is conclusive proof that the latter description must also be taken allegorically; in fact, as such, the description is applicable to both the day of Resurrection and the doom of the opponents in this life. Such phrases as the rolling up of heaven (21:104), the rending asunder of heaven (as here and in 82:1), the removing the covering of heaven (81:11), and other similar phrases, all really speak of the sweeping away of the old order of things to give place to a new, attended by the necessary terrors and disasters, and hence the description applies to the doom of a nation in this world as well as to the entirely new order of things which will be ushered in with the Resurrection. See also 21:104a and 81:11a. [Back to verse 18]

 

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Chapter 72: Al-Jinn (The Jinn)

Chapter 74: Al-Maddaththir (The One Wrapping Himself Up)

Holy Quran Section > English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali (Table of Contents) > Chapter 73 (Al-Muzzammil- The One Covering Himself Up) > Section 1 (Verses 1 to 19)


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