Surah Muddathir

Surah Muddathir

Table of Contents

Surah Muddathir (سورة المدّثّر) is one of the chapters of the 29th part of the Quran. it cover topics like the Quran  being a warning to the disbelievers, refuting false accusations against the Quran, the consequences of actions, the guardians of Hell and their number and the Quran being a reminder.

Facts about Surah Muddathir

One of the chapters of the 29th part of the Quran, Surah Muddathir begins with addressing the Prophet by a title given to him by God. It goes on to talk to about many topics, the main being the mockery of the disbelievers and calling the Quran magic and the Quran’s warnings to the disbelievers in this regard, while also refuting these claims. It also talks of man and the results of his actions in the Hereafter and the guardians of Hell. It ends with once again mentioning the Quran and how it is a reminder.

74 Surah no.

Juz’ 29 Place

Makki Makki/Madani

4 Order of revelation

56 No. of verses

256 No. of words

1036 No. of letters


Arabic Text and Translation of Surah Muddathir


بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم

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

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ ﴿1﴾

O you wrapped up in your mantle!

قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ ﴿2﴾

Rise up and warn!

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ ﴿3﴾

Magnify your Lord,

وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ ﴿4﴾

And purify your clothes,

وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ ﴿5﴾

And keep away from all impurity!

وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ ﴿6﴾

Do not grant a favour seeking a greater gain,

وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ ﴿7﴾

And be patient for the sake of your Lord.

فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُورِ ﴿8﴾

When the Trumpet will be sounded,

فَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوْمٌ عَسِيرٌ ﴿9﴾

That will be a day of hardship,

عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ غَيْرُ يَسِيرٍ ﴿10﴾

Not at all easy for the faithless.

ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا ﴿11﴾

Leave Me [to deal] with him whom I created alone,

وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا ﴿12﴾

And furnished him with extensive means,

وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا ﴿13﴾

[Gave him] sons to be at his side,

وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا ﴿14﴾

And facilitated [all matters] for him.

ثُمَّ يَطْمَعُ أَنْ أَزِيدَ ﴿15﴾

Still he is eager that I should give him more.

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهُ كَانَ لِآيَاتِنَا عَنِيدًا ﴿16﴾

No indeed! He is an obstinate opponent of Our signs.

سَأُرْهِقُهُ صَعُودًا ﴿17﴾

Soon I will overwhelm him with hardship.

إِنَّهُ فَكَّرَ وَقَدَّرَ ﴿18﴾

Indeed he reflected and decided.

فَقُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿19﴾

Perish he, how he decided!

ثُمَّ قُتِلَ كَيْفَ قَدَّرَ ﴿20﴾

Again, perish he, how he decided!

ثُمَّ نَظَرَ ﴿21﴾

Then he looked;

ثُمَّ عَبَسَ وَبَسَرَ ﴿22﴾

Then frowned and scowled.

ثُمَّ أَدْبَرَ وَاسْتَكْبَرَ ﴿23﴾

Then he walked away disdainfully,

فَقَالَ إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ يُؤْثَرُ ﴿24﴾

Saying, ‘It is nothing but traditional sorcery.

إِنْ هَـٰذَا إِلَّا قَوْلُ الْبَشَرِ ﴿25﴾

It is nothing but the speech of a human.’

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ ﴿26﴾

Soon I will cast him into Saqar.

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ ﴿27﴾

And what will show you what is Saqar?

لَا تُبْقِي وَلَا تَذَرُ ﴿28﴾

It neither spares, nor leaves [anything].

لَوَّاحَةٌ لِّلْبَشَرِ ﴿29﴾

It burns the skin.

عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ ﴿30﴾

There are nineteen [keepers] over it.

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً ۙ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِيمَانًا ۙ وَلَا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۙ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّـهُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْبَشَرِ ﴿31﴾

We have assigned only angels as keepers of the Fire, and We have made their number merely a stumbling block for the faithless, and so that those who were given the Book may be reassured, and the faithful may increase in [their] faith, and so that those who were given the Book and the faithful may not be in doubt, and so that the faithless and those in whose hearts is a sickness may say, ‘What did Allah mean by this description?’ Thus does Allah lead astray whomever He wishes and guides whomever He wishes. No one knows the hosts of your Lord except Him, and it is just an admonition for all humans.

كَلَّا وَالْقَمَرِ ﴿32﴾

No indeed! By the Moon!

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ ﴿33﴾

By the night when it recedes!

وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا أَسْفَرَ ﴿34﴾

By the dawn when it brightens!

إِنَّهَا لَإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ ﴿35﴾

Indeed they are one of the greatest [signs of God]

نَذِيرًا لِّلْبَشَرِ ﴿36﴾

—a warner to all humans,

لِمَن شَاءَ مِنكُمْ أَن يَتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ ﴿37﴾

[Alike] for those of you who like to advance ahead and those who would remain behind.

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ ﴿38﴾

Every soul is hostage to what it has earned,

إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِينِ ﴿39﴾

Except the People of the Right Hand.

فِي جَنَّاتٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ ﴿40﴾

[They will be] in gardens, questioning

عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ ﴿41﴾

The guilty:

مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ ﴿42﴾

‘What drew you into Hell?’

قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ ﴿43﴾

They will answer, ‘We were not among those who prayed.

وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ ﴿44﴾

Nor did we feed the poor.

وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ ﴿45﴾

We used to indulge in [profane] gossip along with the gossipers,

وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴿46﴾

And we used to deny the Day of Retribution

حَتَّىٰ أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ ﴿47﴾

Until death came to us.’

فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ ﴿48﴾

So the intercession of the intercessors will not avail them.

فَمَا لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِينَ ﴿49﴾

What is the matter with them that they evade the Reminder

كَأَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُّسْتَنفِرَةٌ ﴿50﴾

As if they were terrified asses

فَرَّتْ مِن قَسْوَرَةٍ ﴿51﴾

Fleeing from a lion?

بَلْ يُرِيدُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُؤْتَىٰ صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَةً ﴿52﴾

But everyone of them desires to be given unrolled scriptures [from Allah]!

كَلَّا ۖ بَل لَّا يَخَافُونَ الْآخِرَةَ ﴿53﴾

No! Indeed, they do not fear the Hereafter.

كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ ﴿54﴾

No! It is indeed a reminder.

فَمَن شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ ﴿55﴾

So let anyone who wishes be mindful of it.

وَمَا يَذْكُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ هُوَ أَهْلُ التَّقْوَىٰ وَأَهْلُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ ﴿56﴾

And they will not be mindful unless Allah wishes. He is worthy of [your] being wary [of Him] and He is worthy to forgive. 1

The following are the topics covered in this article:

Benefits of Reciting Surah Muddathir

According to the Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his household), the person who recites this chapter will be bestowed with good deeds equal to the number of believers and disbelievers in the Prophet in Makkah.

In another narration, Ja‘far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (peace be on him) is reported to have said:

“If one recites it in his obligatory prayers, it will be incumbent upon the most Exalted One to make him join the company of the Prophet (S) in his status, and he will never suffer misery in the life of this world at all.” 2

Advice to the Prophet in Surah Muddathir

The first few verses of Surah Muddathir are addressing and advising the Prophet and will be discussed below

The One Wrapped Up: Title of the Prophet in Surah Muddathir

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ ﴿1﴾

O you wrapped up in your mantle!

The word ‘tadatthur’ (تدثّر) from which the word ‘mudaththir’ (مدثّر) has been derived means to wrap a cloth, blanket, or other such things around oneself while sleeping.

This verse is addressing the Prophet (peace be on him and his household) who was in such a state, i.e. wrapped up in a blanket and this indicates familiarity and kindness. 3

Rise Up and Warn

قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ ﴿2﴾

Rise up and warn!

The word ‘inzar’ (إنذار) in the verse means to warn and has been used in the absolute sense and includes everyone.

The whole of Surah Muddathir is warning and therefore only warning has been sufficed with; otherwise the Prophet is also ‘basheer’ (بشیر), the bringer of glad-tidings.

God is Great

وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ ﴿3﴾

Magnify your Lord,

The verse is asking to consider God to be great in action and words and to know that nothing and no one is equal or above God in greatness and God is greater than these regards; saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ (الله أکبر), i.e. God is great explains this meaning.

This meaning has been confirmed in a narration from Ja‘far bin Muhammad al-Sadiq (peace be on him) where he explains that Allahu Akbar means that He is greater than can be described. 4

Stay Away from Impurity

وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ ﴿4﴾

And purify your clothes,

The word ‘rajz’ (رجز) refers to uncleanliness and impurity and therefore applies to all types of sins, polytheism, idolatry, punishment and all unsuitable actions and morals. 5

To Make Beholden

وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ ﴿6﴾

Do not grant a favour seeking a greater gain,

Minnat’ (منت) or make someone beholden is to rub in the favor you have done for others so much that the blessing becomes tarnished.

Tastakthir’ refers to when one feels what he gives appears to him to be a lot.

The verse advises that when you give charity or do a good deed, do not oblige others and do not consider that what you have done is great. 6

Patient for God

وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ ﴿7﴾

And be patient for the sake of your Lord.

Since the word patience has been used in the absolute sense in this verse, it includes are categories of patience; i.e. patience during suffering, patience in obedience and patience in abandoning sins.

The verse therefore is advising the Prophet to have patience when the people are persecuting him and while suffering when warning the people, in executing these commands and in obedience to God and abstaining from sinning. 7

Warning the Mockers and Jeerers in Surah Muddathir

The following verses of Surah Muddathir are severely warning those who mocked the Quran and referred to it as magic and ridiculed some of its reality.

Raised in the Hereafter

فَإِذَا نُقِرَ فِي النَّاقُورِ ﴿8﴾

When the Trumpet will be sounded,

The ‘nuqira’ (نُقِر) means to strike something and ‘naqur’ (ناقور) is something that is struck in order to make a sound.

This verse of Surah Muddathir is a metaphor for the dead being raised in the Hereafter and being held accountable for their deeds. 8

A Day of Great Difficulty according to Surah Muddathir

فَذَٰلِكَ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوْمٌ عَسِيرٌ ﴿9﴾

That will be a day of hardship,

عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ غَيْرُ يَسِيرٍ ﴿10﴾

Not at all easy for the faithless.

Qiyamah is a day of great hardship for the disbelievers and they would not get used to this hardship even with the passing of time and it would not get easier for them. 9

God will Deal with the Wicked

ذَرْنِي وَمَنْ خَلَقْتُ وَحِيدًا ﴿11﴾

Leave Me [to deal] with him whom I created alone,

This sentence of Surah Muddathir is a warning and according to narrations, this verse and the next few verses have been revealed regarding Walid bin Mughairah.

The word alone (wahidan وحیداً) in the part of the sentence that says whom I created alone could have the following two meanings:

  1. It could either be an attribute of the created, i.e. he (the created) was alone, incapable and poor and God gave him blessings;
  2. Or it could be an attribute of the Creator (i.e. God), in which case it would mean that God created him alone and now too He alone will handle him (and his punishment). 10

Walid bin Mughairah

Who was Walid and what did he do that warranted such warnings against him?

Walid bin Mughairah was a prominent person among the polytheists and was well known among them for his intellect and understanding. 11

Walid’s Suggestion

Near the Masjid al-Haram (مسجد الحرام), i.e. the sacred mosque in Makkah, was a place called ‘Dar al-Nadwah’ (دار الندوة) where the polytheists used to gather for counsel. One day in a gathering there he suggested they all unite in their words against the Prophet (peace be upon him and his household) and have reply to the visitors of the Ka‘bah about him. One suggested they say he is a poet, another that he is crazy and a third that he is a like the high priests of old who would foretell the future.

However, Walid replied that his words are not similar to poetry, nor does he exhibit signs of craziness and neither do his words resemble those of the high priests. Ultimately, they decided to say that he is a magician and divides families; and even in one household, if a person brings faith in his teachings, he is separated from the other members. 12

Verses of the Blessings given to Walid and Describing His State

The next verses of Surah Muddathir are enumerating the blessings that God gave to Walid and after that the verses describe his state, his denial and his ultimate punishment. 13

The Blessings given to Walid mentioned in Surah Muddathir

وَجَعَلْتُ لَهُ مَالًا مَّمْدُودًا ﴿12﴾

And furnished him with extensive means,

وَبَنِينَ شُهُودًا ﴿13﴾

[Gave him] sons to be at his side,

وَمَهَّدتُّ لَهُ تَمْهِيدًا ﴿14﴾

And facilitated [all matters] for him.

In these verses, God mentions the blessings He gave Walid: He created him and gave him great wealth and children; however, he misused his intellect and ability and stood against God’s Prophet. Therefore, woe be unto him! 14

Walid’s State

The verses of Surah Muddathir going forward till verse twenty-six are cursing Walid and describing his state and the consequences of his actions as well as the punishment that awaits him. 15

What is Saqar (سقر)?

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ ﴿26﴾

Soon I will cast him into Saqar.

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سَقَرُ ﴿27﴾

And what will show you what is Saqar?

لَا تُبْقِي وَلَا تَذَرُ ﴿28﴾

It neither spares, nor leaves [anything].

لَوَّاحَةٌ لِّلْبَشَرِ ﴿29﴾

It burns the skin.

‘Saqar’ (سقر) is one of the names of the fire of Hell  and means to melt under the heat of the sun.

It is a fire that burns everything and leaves nothing safe and changes the color of the skin to black or red.

It is also possible that the verse that says it neither spares nor leaves anything, it could mean that it neither kills anyone nor keeps anyone alive and in this case, would have the meaning of the following verses:

الَّذِي يَصْلَى النَّارَ الْكُبْرَىٰ ﴿12﴾

—he who will enter the Great Fire,

ثُمَّ لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَىٰ ﴿13﴾

then he will neither live in it, nor die 16 , 17

The Guardians of Hellfire described in Surah Muddathir

The next few verses of Surah Muddathir are describing the guardians of Hellfire and their number.

Surah Muddathir and the Nineteen Guardians of Hell

عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ ﴿30﴾

There are nineteen [keepers] over it.

As is clear from the verse, nineteen individuals are responsible for the punishment to the transgressors in Hell and even though it has not been clarified whether they are angels or something else, however, the verses that speak of Qiyamah and specifically the next verse clearly states that they are angels. 18

The Angels Guarding Hell

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا أَصْحَابَ النَّارِ إِلَّا مَلَائِكَةً ۙ وَمَا جَعَلْنَا عِدَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لِيَسْتَيْقِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَيَزْدَادَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِيمَانًا ۙ وَلَا يَرْتَابَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ ۙ وَلِيَقُولَ الَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّـهُ بِهَـٰذَا مَثَلًا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُضِلُّ اللَّـهُ مَن يَشَاءُ وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَا يَعْلَمُ جُنُودَ رَبِّكَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۚ وَمَا هِيَ إِلَّا ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْبَشَرِ ﴿31﴾

We have assigned only angels as keepers of the Fire, and We have made their number merely a stumbling block for the faithless, and so that those who were given the Book may be reassured, and the faithful may increase in [their] faith, and so that those who were given the Book and the faithful may not be in doubt, and so that the faithless and those in whose hearts is a sickness may say, ‘What did Allah mean by this description?’ Thus does Allah lead astray whomever He wishes and guides whomever He wishes. No one knows the hosts of your Lord except Him, and it is just an admonition for all humans.

That there are nineteen angels guarding over Hell can bring certainty for the People of the Book and the Muslims in following ways:

  • This same number has been mentioned in previous Divine books, i.e. the Torah and the Bible. It is because of this that the Jews and Christians said that how can a person who has not been taught by any worldly teacher be aware of this? Therefore, it must have been revelation given to him.
  • The belief of the People of the Book in the rightness of the Quran is a cause for the increase in belief of the Muslims. 19

The Hypocrites in Surah Muddathir

Regarding the part of the verse that states: and so that the faithless and those in whose hearts is a sickness may say, ‘What did Allah mean by this description,’ this sentence does not mean to indicate that the purpose of God’s action as this sentence of the hypocrites is something mocking and this itself is disbelief.

Rather, this verse of Surah Muddathir seeks to say that if we mentioned the number of angels guarding Hell, it was to test the disbelievers and be a reason for the certainty of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) and for the increase in faith of the Muslims. However, one of the results of these purposes is the mockery of the hypocrites and disbelievers. 20

Thus Does Allah Lead Astray Whomever He Wishes…

In some verses of the Quran, leading people astray has been attributed to God; as is mentioned in this verse too. However, we must know that ‘idlal’ (إضلال) means to leave someone to their own state, i.e. God leaves the disbelievers to their own state; like a farmer who puts aside the seeds that are rotten and spoilt but preserves the good seeds and provides the causes for their development. 21

Refuting the Accusations against the Quran in Surah Muddathir

كَلَّا وَالْقَمَرِ ﴿32﴾

No indeed! By the Moon!

وَاللَّيْلِ إِذْ أَدْبَرَ ﴿33﴾

By the night when it recedes!

وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا أَسْفَرَ ﴿34﴾

By the dawn when it brightens!

إِنَّهَا لَإِحْدَى الْكُبَرِ ﴿35﴾

Indeed they are one of the greatest [signs of God]

نَذِيرًا لِّلْبَشَرِ ﴿36﴾

—a warner to all humans,

لِمَن شَاءَ مِنكُمْ أَن يَتَقَدَّمَ أَوْ يَتَأَخَّرَ ﴿37﴾

[Alike] for those of you who like to advance ahead and those who would remain behind.

In these verses of Surah Muddathir the accusations against the Quran and it words and verses which was mentioned in the previous verses (of it being magic and the words of man, etc.) have been refuted. 22

The Greatest of Signs

Regarding the greatest sign of God mentioned in these verses of Surah Muddathir, it is possible it refers to one of the following:

  • It could be referring to the fire of Hell, i.e. Saqar. And in saying it is is one of the greatest, it means to say that it is the one of the greatest calamities and changes and no other calamity is equal to it in terms of might and greatness.
  • Or the verses could be refuting Walid’s claim regarding the Quran when he called it magic. In which case, the verses would mean that the Quran, i.e. its verses, in terms of warning, are one of the greatest Divine signs. 23

Warning for All

The last verse mentioned in the abovementioned verses of Surah Muddathir makes the warnings of the Quran general for all human beings; whether or not they have brought faith.

Advancing ahead in this verse means following the truth and its external instance is belief and obedience. Whereas, remaining behind refers to not following the truth, the external instance of which is sinning and disbelief.

The verse then means that the Quran is the greatest of Divine signs because it a warning for all human beings; be they among those who follow the truth or those who don’t and there is no one who is not connected to the Quran. 24

Man and the Result of his Actions in Surah Muddathir

In this section, the verses of Surah Muddathir explain that all people are bound to their own actions and those who believe and act upon the Quran are free from Hell; otherwise, that is what awaits them and the intervention of intercessors will not help them. 25

Every Soul is Bound to what it has Performed

كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ رَهِينَةٌ ﴿38﴾

Every soul is hostage to what it has earned,

It seems that the intent in considering each soul a hostage is that God has this right over His creation that they are in servitude to Him through belief and good actions. Therefore, each created soul is captive and reserved by God until they pay this right and debt; if a person believes and perform good actions, he will be redeemed and freed and if he disbelieves and commits sins and dies in such a stat, he is a hostage and captive for eternity and this is one type of being captive or ‘rahin’ (رهین) as the verse says. 26

Except the People of the Right Hand

إِلَّا أَصْحَابَ الْيَمِينِ ﴿39﴾

Except the People of the Right Hand.

Who are the ‘People of the Right Hand’ or As-hab al-Yamin (أصحاب الیمین) mentioned in Surah Muddathir?

They are the ones who will be given their book of deeds in their right hand on Qiyamah and are among the medial and moderate believers who have the true beliefs and perform good deeds and they have been referred to in other verses of the Quran as well; for example, in Surah al-Waqi‘ah. 27

Two Groups of Souls indicated in Surah Muddathir

That which can be understood from the exception and the object of exception in the above verse is that souls that have actions are divided into two groups:

  • Those that are bound and captive to their action and these are the souls of the transgressors
  • And those that have been freed from captivity and these are the souls of the As-hab al-Yamin (people of the right hand). 28

The Third Group

There is, however, according to verses of the Quran, a third group as well:

وَالسَّابِقُونَ السَّابِقُونَ ﴿10﴾

And the Foremost Ones are the foremost ones:

أُولَـٰئِكَ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ ﴿11﴾

they are the ones brought near [to Allah], 29

The reason these have not been mentioned in the exception is that, as it was previously mentioned, we are talking of souls that perform actions; however, the Foremost Ones () are so established in servitude that they do not consider themselves to have souls to say nothing of considering themselves as having actions. They consider their souls as well as their actions to be God’s property and on Qiyamah they will neither come forth in the Divine court and neither will their deeds have any accounting as is indicated in the following verses:

… therefore they shall most surely be brought up. (127) But not the servants of Allah, the purified ones. (128) 30 , 31

Dialogue between the Believers and the Sinners in Surah Muddathir

فِي جَنَّاتٍ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ ﴿40﴾

[They will be] in gardens, questioning

عَنِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ ﴿41﴾

The guilty:

مَا سَلَكَكُمْ فِي سَقَرَ ﴿42﴾

‘What drew you into Hell?’

There are many dialogues in the Hereafter mentioned in the Quran; sweet and bitter, greetings and curses, questions and admonishments, trying to blame others for one’s sins and cursing one another; there are also dialogues between believers, between disbelievers, and dialogues of the disbelievers with the believers or vice versa; and also of angels with the believers and sinners.

These verses of Surah Muddathir speak of one of those dialogues between the believers and disbelievers. 32

The Attributes of the Transgressors in Surah Muddathir

قَالُوا لَمْ نَكُ مِنَ الْمُصَلِّينَ ﴿43﴾

They will answer, ‘We were not among those who prayed.

وَلَمْ نَكُ نُطْعِمُ الْمِسْكِينَ ﴿44﴾

Nor did we feed the poor.

وَكُنَّا نَخُوضُ مَعَ الْخَائِضِينَ ﴿45﴾

We used to indulge in [profane] gossip along with the gossipers,

وَكُنَّا نُكَذِّبُ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ ﴿46﴾

And we used to deny the Day of Retribution

In these verses the transgressors mention four attributes which explain why they are in Hell:

  • They did not pray; here ‘salat’ (صلاة) does not refer to the particular ritual prayers of Islam; rather it means special worshipful attention to God. This is God’s right upon us
  • They did not help the poor; helping the poor here refers to providing them with enough that their needs are fulfilled and this is referring to other people’s rights over us.
  • ‘Khawd’ (خوض) refers to the practical and verbal indulgence in falsehood; such that one is completely heedless to non-falsehood.
  • They denied Qiyamah 33

Denying Qiyamah

Denying Qiyamah is itself a prelude to committing sins; as indicated in the following verses:

Have you considered him who calls the judgment a lie? (1) That is the one who treats the orphan with harshness, (2) 34

And also, sinning leads one to disbelief and denial:

Then evil was the end of those who did evil, because they | rejected the communications of Allah. 35

Therefore, the verse of Surah Muddathir could either indicate the reason for the actions of the disbelievers in the previous verses; or, it could be the result of their actions. 36

The Attainment of Certainty

حَتَّىٰ أَتَانَا الْيَقِينُ ﴿47﴾

Until death came to us.’

Certainty, i.e. ‘yaqeen’ (یقین) mentioned in the verse refers to death; either because it is the most certain matter for everyone and no one has a doubt about it or because at the time of death all realities will be revealed to a person and everyone will reach a state of certainty and belief. 37

No Intercessor can Help

فَمَا تَنفَعُهُمْ شَفَاعَةُ الشَّافِعِينَ ﴿48﴾

So the intercession of the intercessors will not avail them.

This verse of Surah Muddathir shows that on Qiyamah there will be intercession; however, this group of people will not benefit from it. 38

Intercessors on Qiyamah

According to verses of the Quran and narrations, God will give permission for intercession to some people:

  • The Holy Prophet (peace be on him and his household). According to a narration, the Prophet states that the first person to intercede (for his nation) is him.
  • The Quran. In a narration, Ali bin Abi Taleb (peace be on him) states that the Quran is one of the intercessors on Qiyamah Angels and martyrs
  • One’s own actions and deeds 39
  • And according to narrations, the Ahlulbait, i.e. the twelve Imams and successors of the Prophet and his daughter Lady Fatemah (peace be on them).

Conditions for Intercession

According to verses of the Quran and narrations, those who have the following conditions will be included in intercession in the Hereafter:

  • Those who believe, pray, give charity in God’s way and don’t waste their lives
  • God has given permission for their intercession
  • They leave the world with faith and believing
  • There is a relationship between the intercessor and the one interceded for. One who has no ideological relationship with the intercessors will not receive it from them. 40

Why do the Disbelievers Turn Away from the Reminders?

فَمَا لَهُمْ عَنِ التَّذْكِرَةِ مُعْرِضِينَ ﴿49﴾

What is the matter with them that they evade the Reminder

This sentence of Surah Muddathir is expressing amazement at the fact that the disbelievers turn away from the Quran and its reminders despite all the warnings given and all that has so far been discussed. Despite the fact that the intellect necessitates that they believe in the Quran, they turned away from it. 41

Surah Muddathir and a Metaphor to Explain their Turning Away

كَأَنَّهُمْ حُمُرٌ مُّسْتَنفِرَةٌ ﴿50﴾

As if they were terrified asses

فَرَّتْ مِن قَسْوَرَةٍ ﴿51﴾

Fleeing from a lion?

The Quran utilizes a metaphor of asses, here referring to zebras, fleeing from a lion that hunts them to explain the turning away of the disbelievers.

The following points are implied in the metaphor:

  • The flight of a zebra from a lion or hunter is not based on intellect and understanding
  • It is accompanied by panic
  • It does not take place with a specific goal
  • The one running away has no opportunity to renew his/her strength and is ultimately caught. 42

And these points would apply to the disbelievers turning away from the Quran and believing in God and the Prophet.

The Reason for the Disbelievers Turning Away

بَلْ يُرِيدُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَن يُؤْتَىٰ صُحُفًا مُّنَشَّرَةً ﴿52﴾

But everyone of them desires to be given unrolled scriptures [from Allah]!

The disbelievers turn away from the guidance and the reminders of the Quran not simply due to hatred; rather, it is also because each one of them expect that a book from God that includes what is in the Quran is revealed for them.

And this is an allusion to their arrogance; they are only willing to believe in the call of the Prophet if a Divine book is revealed for each of them but are not willing to believe in a call through prophet-hood, even though it is the truth and is confirmed through miracles. 43

 Refuting their Expectations

كَلَّا ۖ بَل لَّا يَخَافُونَ الْآخِرَةَ ﴿53﴾

No! Indeed, they do not fear the Hereafter.

The first part of this verse of Surah Muddathir refutes this incorrect expectation of the disbelievers. The prophetic mission is not an unfounded claim; rather, clear verses and miracles and decisive proofs leave no room for doubt for anyone. Therefore, God’s proof over His Prophet and others is equally established and complete and there is no need for the revelation of separate Divine books on each of those who are called to Islam.

Apart from this, requires purity of essence and qualification of the soul; it is a purity and qualification that the souls of all others lack. In one of the other verses of the Quran where the disbelievers express: We will not believe till we are given the like of what Allah’s apostles are given 44 , God replies: Allah best knows where He places His message. 45 , 46

The Disbelievers Don’t Fear the Hereafter

The next part of the abovementioned verse of Surah Muddathir states that the fact that the disbelievers’ expectation is just an apparent claim and a made up excuse. The real reason for their disbelief and turning away from the Quran is their lack of fear, i.e. their lack of faith, in the Hereafter and this has been explained in many verses of the Quran. 47

The Quran is Enough

كَلَّا إِنَّهُ تَذْكِرَةٌ ﴿54﴾

No! It is indeed a reminder.

فَمَن شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ ﴿55﴾

So let anyone who wishes be mindful of it.

The suggestion of the disbelievers is refuted by this verse of Surah Muddathir and states that God will not reveal any such book and the Quran is enough as a guidance, reminder and warning. The affects of the Quran are the punishments and rewards that God has decided for the obedient and the sinners.

Those who wish can chose to take lessons from it because the call and advice of the Quran is not obligatory and it invites in the capacity of freedom and freewill. 48

God’s Will

وَمَا يَذْكُرُونَ إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ هُوَ أَهْلُ التَّقْوَىٰ وَأَهْلُ الْمَغْفِرَةِ ﴿56﴾

And they will not be mindful unless Allah wishes. He is worthy of [your] being wary [of Him] and He is worthy to forgive.

From the previous verse of Surah Muddathir, So let anyone who wishes be mindful of it, it is possible that some might conclude that they are independent in their wanting to be mindful and that their choice to do so or not has no relation to God. In answer to this, the present verse states that this choice has been bestowed upon them by God.

In other words, through His existential will, God wanted man to have a choice in performing or abandoning an act and created him as such and if He hadn’t, man would have had no free will. The word ‘an yasha’ (أن یشاء) indicates His continuous will in this matter.

As a result, man’s wanting is connected to his own choice and at the same time to God’s will. 49

Summary of Surah Muddathir

Surah Muddathir is one of the chapters of the 29th part of the Quran. the verses begin with a few words of advice and then go on to the topic of warning the disbelievers and polytheists and indicate the story of Walid bin Mughairah. Another one of the important topics discussed in the Surah is the Quran and its attributes and refuting the accusations made against by the polytheists and disbelievers.

The Surah also talks about man and the result of his actions and the fire of Hell and its guardians; their number and what they are. Finally, the chapter ends with giving the reasons for the disbelievers’ transgressions and how the Quran is a reminder and a short discussion of man’s free will.


References

  1. Qarai translation
  2. Al-Islam
  3. Tabatabai, M.H. (1374). Tafsir al-Mizan. (Trans. by Muhammad Baqir Musawi Hamedani). Jamiat al-Modarresin Publications. Vol. pp. 123-124
  4. Qarashi, A. A. (1377). Tafsir-i Ahsan al-Hadith. Bethat Publications. Vol. 11, p. 419
  5. Qaraati, M. Tafsir Nur. Commentary of Surah Muddathir. Verses 1-7
  6. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 127
  7. Ibid. p. 128
  8. Ibid. p. 133
  9. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 8-14
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 135
  14. Qaraati, M. Ibid
  15. Ibid. p. 137
  16. [87: 12-13]. Qarai translation
  17. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. pp. 137 & 138
  18. Ibid. p. 138
  19. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 31
  20. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 140
  21. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verse 31
  22. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 148
  23. Ibid. p. 149
  24. Ibid. p. 150
  25. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. p. 436
  26. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. 151
  27. Ibid. p. 151
  28. Ibid.
  29. [56: 10-11]. Qarai translation
  30. [37: 127-128]. Qarai translation
    … فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُونَ ﴿١٢٧﴾ إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ ﴿١٢٨﴾
  31. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. pp. 151-152
  32. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 38-47
  33. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 153
  34. [107: 1-2]. Qarai translation
    أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ ﴿١﴾ فَذَٰلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ ﴿٢﴾
  35. [30: 10]. Qarai translation
    ثُمَّ كَانَ عَاقِبَةَ الَّذِينَ أَسَاءُوا السُّوأَىٰ أَن كَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ…
  36. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 38-47
  37. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 38-47
  38. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 154
  39. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 48-55
  40. Ibid.
  41. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 156
  42. Qaraati, M. Ibid. Verses 48-55
  43. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 157
  44. [6: 124]. Qarai translation
  45. Ibid.
    وَإِذَا جَاءَتْهُمْ آيَةٌ قَالُوا لَن نُّؤْمِنَ حَتَّىٰ نُؤْتَىٰ مِثْلَ مَا أُوتِيَ رُسُلُ اللَّـهِ ۘ اللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ حَيْثُ يَجْعَلُ رِسَالَتَهُ ۗ…
  46. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. p. 158
  47. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. p. 441
  48. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. pp. 158-159
  49. Qarashi, A. A. Ibid. pp. 441-442
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