Surah Maarij

Surah Maarij

Surah Maarij (معارج) also called surah Sa’ala Sa’ilun (سأل سائل) and Waqi’ (واقع) is the 70th surah of the Quran in Juz’ 29 with 44 verses and 217 words. The name of the surah comes from verse three, where the word Maarij meaning “lofty stations” is mentioned.

Facts about Surah Maarij

Surah Maarij (معارج) also called surah Sa’ala Sa’ilun (سأل سائل) and Waqi’ (واقع) is the 70th surah of the Quran in Juz’ 29 with 44 verses and 217 words. The name of the surah comes from verse three, where the word Maarij (معارج) meaning “lofty stations” is mentioned. Reading through the verses of surah Maarij, one can find six main topics: Description of righteous servants of God;Description of faithless transgressors;The angelic realm;Qualities of mankind andThe Day of Judgment where all witness the divine power.

70 Surah no.

Juz’ 29 Place

Makki Makki/Madani

77 or 79 Order of revelation

44 No. of verses

217 No. of words

972 No. of letters


Arabic Text and Translation of Surah Maarij


بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم

In the name of Allah, the most compassionate, most merciful

سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ ﴿1﴾

An asker asked for a punishment sure to befall

لِّلْكَافِرِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ ﴿2﴾

—which none can avert from the faithless —

مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ ﴿3﴾

from Allah, Lord of the lofty stations.

تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ ﴿4﴾

The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day whose span is fifty thousand years.

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا ﴿5﴾

So be patient, with a patience that is graceful.

إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا ﴿6﴾

Indeed they see it to be far off,

وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا ﴿7﴾

and We see it to be near.

يَوْمَ تَكُونُ السَّمَاءُ كَالْمُهْلِ ﴿8﴾

The day when the sky will be like molten copper,

وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ كَالْعِهْنِ ﴿9﴾

and the mountains like [tufts of] dyed wool,

وَلَا يَسْأَلُ حَمِيمٌ حَمِيمًا ﴿10﴾

and no friend will inquire about [the welfare of his] friend,

يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ ۚ يَوَدُّ الْمُجْرِمُ لَوْ يَفْتَدِي مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمِئِذٍ بِبَنِيهِ ﴿11﴾

[though] they will be placed within each other’s sight. The guilty one will wish he could ransom himself from the punishment of that day at the price of his children,

وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَأَخِيهِ ﴿12﴾

his spouse and his brother,

وَفَصِيلَتِهِ الَّتِي تُؤْوِيهِ ﴿13﴾

his kin, which had sheltered him

وَمَن فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ يُنجِيهِ ﴿14﴾

and all those who are upon the earth, if that might deliver him.

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهَا لَظَىٰ ﴿15﴾

Never! Indeed, it is a blazing fire,

نَزَّاعَةً لِّلشَّوَىٰ ﴿16﴾

which strips away the scalp.

تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ ﴿17﴾

It invites him, who has turned back [from the truth] and forsaken [it],

وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَىٰ ﴿18﴾

amassing [wealth] and hoarding [it].

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا ﴿19﴾

Indeed man has been created covetous:

إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا ﴿20﴾

anxious when an ill befalls him

وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا ﴿21﴾

and grudging [charity] when good comes his way

إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ ﴿22﴾

—[all are such] except the prayerful,

الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ ﴿23﴾

those who persevere in their prayers

وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ ﴿24﴾

and there is a known share in whose wealth

لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ ﴿25﴾

for the beggar and the deprived,

وَالَّذِينَ يُصَدِّقُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴿26﴾

and who affirm the Day of Retribution,

وَالَّذِينَ هُم مِّنْ عَذَابِ رَبِّهِم مُّشْفِقُونَ ﴿27﴾

and those who are apprehensive of the punishment of their Lord

إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّهِمْ غَيْرُ مَأْمُونٍ ﴿28﴾

there is indeed no security from the punishment of their Lord

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ ﴿29﴾

and those who guard their private parts

إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ ﴿30﴾

(apart from their spouses and their slave women, for then they are not blameworthy;

فَمَنِ ابْتَغَىٰ وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ ﴿31﴾

but whoever seeks beyond that—it is they who are the transgressors)

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ ﴿32﴾

and those who keep their trusts and covenants,

وَالَّذِينَ هُم بِشَهَادَاتِهِمْ قَائِمُونَ ﴿33﴾

and those who are observant of their testimonies,

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ ﴿34﴾

and those who are watchful of their prayers.

أُولَـٰئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُّكْرَمُونَ ﴿35﴾

They will be in gardens, held in honour.

فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ ﴿36﴾

What is the matter with the faithless that they scramble toward you,

عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِينَ ﴿37﴾

from left and right, in groups?

أَيَطْمَعُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُدْخَلَ جَنَّةَ نَعِيمٍ ﴿38﴾

Does each man among them hope to enter the garden of bliss?

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّمَّا يَعْلَمُونَ

Never! Indeed, We created them from what they know.

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا لَقَادِرُونَ ﴿40﴾

So I swear by the Lord of the easts and the wests that We are able

عَلَىٰ أَن نُّبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ ﴿41﴾

to replace them with [others] better than them and We are not to be outmaneuvered.

فَذَرْهُمْ يَخُوضُوا وَيَلْعَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يُلَاقُوا يَوْمَهُمُ الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ ﴿42﴾

So leave them to gossip and play till they encounter the day they are promised:

يَوْمَ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ سِرَاعًا كَأَنَّهُمْ إِلَىٰ نُصُبٍ يُوفِضُونَ ﴿43﴾

the day when they emerge from graves, hastening, as if racing toward a target,

خَاشِعَةً أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ ﴿44﴾

with a humbled look [in their eyes], overcast by abasement. That is the day they had been promised.

Surah Maarij at a glance

Description of versesNumber of verses
The Day of Judgment4, 6-16
Righteous servants of God (building the Islamic Ummah)5, 22-35
Faithless transgressors1, 17, 18, 31, 36-38, 42-44
Qualities of mankind19-21
The divine power2, 3, 28, 39-41

The highlights of surah Maarij

Surah Maarij is the 70th surah of the Quran located in Juz’ 29. This article delves into some of the most important concepts mentioned in the 44 verses of this luminous surah.

Benefits of reciting surah Maarij

In virtue of reciting surah Maarij, the messenger of God (S) says,

One who recites surah Maarij, will receive the reward of the trustworthy, keepers of a covenant and those who establish their ritual prayers. 1

Imam Sadiq (AS) says in a narration,

One who frequently recites surah Maarij, will not be investigated about his sins and shall reside near the Prophet (S) and his household in the Hereafter. 2

One should note that the mere recitation of the verses is not intended and based on the instructions of the Quran, one is to delve into the meaning and implement them in one’s life.

Blessings of reciting surah Maarij

A number of blessings have also been mentioned for the recitation of surah Maarij:

Relief of prisoners

The messenger of God (S) says,

There will be a relief for the captive or prisoner who recites surah Maarij. He shall remain under the protection of this surah until he returns to his family. 3

Granting of requests

Based on a narration, he who frequents in the recitation of surah Maarij shall have his requests granted.

Occasion of revelation of Surah Maarij

According to the view of thirty exegetes and traditionists from the 3rd to the 14th centuries A.H. as quoted in the book of al-Ghadir by ‘Allama Amini, the occasion of revelation of the first three verses of surah Maarij is with regards to a man who addressed the prophet (S) saying,

“On the day of Ghadir you appointed your cousin and son-in-law as the ruler after you. Was this announcement your personal decision or a divine command?”

The prophet (S) told him that this appointment was an order he had received from God.  The man then prayed, “O Lord! If this appointment is truly from you, then send down a rock from the sky.” A rock was sent down and he was killed.

Then the blessed Verses 1-3 of surah Maarij were revealed 4 :

سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ ﴿1﴾

An asker asked for a punishment sure to befall

لِّلْكَافِرِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ ﴿2﴾

—which none can avert from the faithless —

Beyond the world of matter, ascending the heavens, the realm of angels

مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ ﴿3﴾

from Allah, Lord of the lofty stations.

The term “Maarij” in verse 3 of surah Maarij means ‘place of ascent’. That is where the angels ascend and descend based on their rank and proximity to the Lord of the worlds.

Prior to the advent of Islam, all the pagan Arabs were concerned about were wars, drinking, women, poetry and other base material joys however Islam ascended them to a different realm, the heavenly world of angels and light.  

Confining oneself to the world of matter, one gets chained to carnal desires and a realm replete with restrictions and impediments. Once mankind is linked to the non-material world, new horizons open up in front of his face. This world is limitless. It transcends beyond time and space. One can ascend beyond the angels and taste a sense of sweetness one can never taste in the material world.  

Qiyamah in Surah Maarij

Upon narrating the story of the unbeliever who inflicted upon himself the wrath of God in this world, verse 4 of surah Maarij talks about a day to come whose span in 50,000 years!

تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ ﴿4﴾

The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day whose span is fifty thousand years.

On that day, which is Qiyamah, the angels are all in motion, implementing the divine commands. 

Be patient

Despite the unbelievers’ denial of the Last Day or their assumption that it will come in a distant future, God instructs His messenger to wait and gracefully practice patient as it is sure to come and that it is not far off.

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا ﴿5﴾

So be patient, with a patience that is graceful.

إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا ﴿6﴾

Indeed they see it to be far off,

وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا ﴿7﴾

and We see it to be near.

Signs of the arrival of the Last Day

There are many verses of the glorious Quran which depict the events to occur at the threshold of the Resurrection Day . Surah Maarij too, includes two kinds of verses describing frightful occurrences marking the end of the system of the material world.

  • Some of the verses portray that which shall happen to the earthly bodies such as the skies and mountains:

يَوْمَ تَكُونُ السَّمَاءُ كَالْمُهْلِ ﴿8﴾

The day when the sky will be like molten copper,

وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ كَالْعِهْنِ ﴿9﴾

and the mountains like [tufts of] dyed wool, 5

  • Other verses illustrate the emotional state of people and that which befalls them on that Day:

يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ

they will be placed within each other’s sight. 6

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهَا لَظَىٰ ﴿15﴾

Never! Indeed, it is a blazing fire,

نَزَّاعَةً لِّلشَّوَىٰ ﴿16﴾

which strips away the scalp. 7

The significance of such verses is to present a realistic picture of what shall befall man on the Day of Reckoning and serve as a warning for the sinners and a soothing comfort for the righteous, a condition which will persist for eternity. The world of matter is man’s chance to build his eternal abode.

The wishes of a sinner on Qiyamahin Surah Maarij

Based on the luminous verses of the Quran, we notice that on the Last Day, a sinner has three wishes:

  • That the earth could cover him;

يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَعَصَوُا الرَّسُولَ لَوْ تُسَوَّىٰ بِهِمُ الْأَرْضُ وَلَا يَكْتُمُونَ اللَّـهَ حَدِيثًا ﴿42﴾

On that day those who were faithless and [who] disobeyed the Apostle will wish the earth were levelled with them, and they will not conceal any matter from Allah. 8

  • That there were a far distance between him and his deeds;

یوْمَ تَجِدُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ مَّا عَمِلَتْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ مُّحْضَرًا وَمَا عَمِلَتْ مِن سُوءٍ تَوَدُّ لَوْ أَنَّ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَهُ أَمَدًا بَعِيدًا ۗ

The day when every soul will find present whatever good it has done; and as for the evil, it has done, it will wish there were a far distance between it and itself. 9

  • That he could ransom himself from the punishment at the price of his children

يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ ۚ يَوَدُّ الْمُجْرِمُ لَوْ يَفْتَدِي مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمِئِذٍ بِبَنِيهِ ﴿11﴾

[though] they will be placed within each other’s sight. The guilty one will wish he could ransom himself from the punishment of that day at the price of his children, 10

Note that based on surah Maarij, the sinner wishes to ransom himself at the price of:

  1. His children
  2. His spouse
  3. Brother
  4. Relatives
  5. The people of the earth

Qualities of the dwellers of hell in this world

Surah Maarij mentions four qualities and habits which transgressors have in the material world:

تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ ﴿17﴾

It invites him, who has turned back [from the truth] and forsaken [it],

وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَىٰ ﴿18﴾

amassing [wealth] and hoarding [it].

The qualities that mankind has been created with

Surah Maarij mentions mankind with the quality of greed:

إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا ﴿19﴾

Indeed man has been created covetous: 11

It is amazing how surah Maarij defines and explains this trait.

إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا ﴿20﴾

anxious when an ill befalls him

وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا ﴿21﴾

and grudging [charity] when good comes his way

Are the verses contradictory?

Elsewhere in the Quran and in Surah Tin we read:

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ ﴿4﴾

We certainly created man in the best of forms; 12

These verses seem to contradict one another. Mankind has been created in the best of manner yet he is also greedy. How can that be explained?

Man has two kinds of inclinations

The Quran itself provides the answer. Two kinds of inclinations have been created in man’s nature. On the man hand

إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ

the [carnal] soul indeed prompts [men] to evil 13

In a verse from Surah Naziat we see that On the other hand, man has the ability to restrain his soul:

وَأَمَّا مَنْ …نَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَىٰ ﴿40﴾

But as for him who … restrains his soul from [following] desires, 14

The key to man’s felicity and salvation is this contradiction itself. Man has carnal desires, yet he purifies his soul and overcomes the soul that prompts to evil through his intellects. Man’s growth and development is in the selection of one desire over another. But how is that possible?

Prayers as the golden key to all virtues

إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ ﴿22﴾

—[all are such] except the prayerful,

Surah Maarij beautifully explains about the importance of prayers as the means through which one can overcome the urge of the carnal desires and instead replace them by acts which would result not only in spiritually elevated personal attributes but a society whose citizens would be exemplary. The key to all that is steadfastness in prayers.

الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ ﴿23﴾

those who persevere in their prayers

The best action is one which perseveres and continues. Steadfastness in prayers establishes a firm and loving relationship with God, the Lord of the two worlds and is the threshold to other virtues and righteous acts.

A known share for the needy in our wealth

وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَّعْلُومٌ ﴿24﴾

and there is a known share in whose wealth

لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ ﴿25﴾

for the beggar and the deprived,

Based on surah Maarij, the covetous is always restless and stingy, whereas the one who is steadfast in praying is generous and peaceful and allocates a share of his wealth to the needy.

The commander of the faithful, Ali (AS) says:

God (SWT), has fixed the livelihood of the deprived in the wealth of the rich. Hence, whenever a needy stays hungry it is because some rich people have denied (him his share). God will question them about it on the Judgment Day. 15

Keep in mind that surah Maarij mentions a general rule. It instructs the believers to assign a portion of their wealth to all the needy, whether faithful or faithless, whether they ask for it or not.

Qualities of an Islamic Ummah in Surah Maarij

Islam is a comprehensive and all-inclusive religion as it does not only attend to the ideological aspect of a person’s life, rather it also focuses on the needs of the society. Now, the most important element in Islam is prayers. The noble prophet (S) considers prayers  as the pillar of Islam. 16 Note that surah Maarij brilliantly links prayers with other virtues, indicating the qualities of citizens of an Islamic community:


References

  1. Majma’ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 116.
  2. Thawab al-‘Amal, p. 119.
  3. Tafsir al-Burhan, vol. 5, p. 481.
  4. Al-Ghadir, vol. 1, p. 239-246.
  5. [70:7-8] Qarai translation.
  6. [70:11] Qarai translation.
  7. [70:15-16] Qarai translation.
  8. [4:42] Qarai translation.
  9. [3:30] Qarai translation.
  10. [70:11] Qarai translation.
  11. [70:19] Qarai translation.
  12. [95:4] Qarai translation.
  13. [12:53] Qarai translation.
  14. [79:40] Qarai translation.
  15. Hadith no. 328 in Nahjul Balaghah
  16. Mustadrak al-Hikam, vol. 1, p. 172

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Radiyah Shameli
Radiyah Shameli
I am Radiyah Shameil. I write for the blog and am a team member in providing content for courses on “Family in the Quran”. I have a Ph.D. in Islamic studies and am a researcher in the field of women and family in Islam. I teach and research mostly in this area. Currently, I am working on the course “Family in the Quran” and “Parenting”

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Surah Fatiha (فاتِحَة) otherwise known as Fatihat al-Kitab (فاتِحةُ الکِتاب) …

Ghadir in the Quran

Ghadir in the Quran

Ghadir in the Quran is an event that took place …

Surah Duha

Surah Duha

As the 93rd chapter of the Quran, Surah Duha focuses …

Isaac in the Quran

Isaac in the Quran

Isaac in the Quran is a topic that is mentioned …

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