بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Surah al-Infitar – An Overview
Period of Revelation: Makkan
Order of Revelation: 82
Theme and Subject Matter:
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The one who wants that he should see the Resurrection Day as one would see it with one’s eyes, should read Surah at-Takweer, Surah al-Infitar and Surah al-Inshiqaq.” [Musnad Ahma, at-Tirmidhi, ibn al-Mundhir, Tabarani, Hakim]
The Surah begins with a description of the upheaval of the Day of Judgment. It mentions the cleaving of the sky, the scattering of the stars, the bursting of the oceans and the hurling of the graves as simultaneous with every soul’s knowledge of its earlier and later actions, on that momentous day.
The second part starts with a disapproval combined with an implicit threat to man who is the recipient of abundant grace but who shows no gratitude for it, “O mankind, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous,” [82: 6].
The third part provides the reason for man’s ungrateful attitude. Denial of reckoning and judgment, the Surah tells us, is the source of every evil. The reality of meting out reward and punishment at the Last Judgment is re-emphasized, “And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers, noble and recording; they know whatever you do,” [82: 10-12]
The final part gives an idea of how fearful the Day of Judgment is, how everyone is absolutely helpless and how all power belongs to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
We seek Allah’s mercy to include us among His righteous slaves and make us the inhabitants of Paradise, aameen.
Tafseer Surah al-Infitar
Ayaat 1-8 – O Mankind! What has made You Careless about Your Lord
In the first three ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the first stage of the Resurrection, “the sky will break apart, the stars will fall, scattered and the seas will erupt.” Then people will be brought out of their graves.
The word bu’thirat [بُعْثِرَتْ] used in the ayah as explained by ibn ‘Abbas means “searched”. As-Suddi said, “Tub’athiru means that they will be moved and those who are in them will come out.”
As their graves are hurled about people will be resurrected to face the reckoning and receive their reward and punishment. Upon witnessing the violent scenes narrated above they will feel insecure. Their only hope will be in their Lord, their Creator. Man’s heart is thus made to turn to the Only True Being to seek His support and security.
“A soul will [then] know what it has put forth and kept back,” [82:5]. Each soul will come face to face with what it has done and what it has left behind of the consequences of its actions; or, what it has enjoyed in this present life and what it has saved for the Hereafter. Such knowledge, however, will accompany these horrific events. It will indeed be part of them, for it terrifies the soul no less than any of the other events.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then says,
يأَيُّهَا الإِنسَـنُ مَا غَرَّكَ بِرَبِّكَ الْكَرِيمِ
“O mankind! What has made you careless about your Lord,
the Most Generous?”
This is similar to what has been reported in a hadeeth,
يَقُولُ اللهُ تَعَالَى يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مَا غَرَّكَ بِي؟ يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ مَاذَا أَجَبْتَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ؟
“Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘O son of Adam! What has deceived you concerning Me. O son of Adam! What was your response to the Messengers?’”
After an opening which alerts one’s senses, the Surah, by means of gentle complaint coupled with an implicit threat, touches the hearts of men who busy themselves with trivialities. What makes you neglect your duties to your Lord and behave impudently towards Him when He has raised you above all His creation and provided you the ability to distinguish between right and wrong?
The Surah goes on to add a few details of Allah’s generosity: His giving man an upright stature. Indeed, man should reflect deeply over his creation, and the fact that he has been given a physically and physiologically perfect constitution. Reflection should prompt him to show his real love, deep respect and genuine gratitude towards Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, his gracious Lord, who has blessed him with such constitution. The human body is composed of a number of specialized systems: the skeleton, muscular system, skin, digestive system, blood circulation, respiratory system, procreative system, lymphatic system, nervous system, the urinal system and the senses of taste, smell, hearing and sight. Every one of these systems is miraculous and far more wonderful than any scientific achievement. Yet man tends to overlook the wonders of his own constitution!
Imam Ahmad recorded from Busr bin Jahhash Al-Qurashi that one day the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spat in his palm and placed his finger on it. Then he said,
قَالَ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ أَنْى تُعْجِزُنِي وَقَدْ خَلَقْتُكَ مِنْ مِثْلِ هذِهِ؟ حَتْى إِذَا سَوَّيْتُكَ وَعَدَلْتُكَ مَشَيْتَ بَيْنَ بُرْدَيْنِ، وَلِلْأَرْضِ مِنْكَ وَئِيدٌ، فَجَمَعْتَ وَمَنَعْتَ حَتْى إِذَا بَلَغَتِ التَّرَاقِيَ قُلْتَ: أَتَصَدَّقُ وَأَنَّى أَوَانُ الصَّدَقَةِ؟
“Allah the Mighty and Sublime says, ‘O Son of Adam! How can you escape Me when I created you from something similar to this (spit)? Then I fashioned you and made your creation balanced so that you walked between the two outer garments. And the earth has a burial place for you. So you gathered (wealth) and withheld it until your soul reached your collarbone (i.e., death comes). Then, at that time you say: I will give charity now. But how will there be time for charity?’” [Ibn Majah]
Concerning Allah’s statement, “in whatever form He willed has He assembled you,” [82: 8] Mujahid said that this means, “in which resemblance: the father, the mother, the paternal uncle, or the maternal uncle.”
Ayaat 9-19 – The Cause of Deception
The Surah moves on to explain the reason for man’s impudence and negligence, “No! But you deny the Recompense,” [82: 9]. The Arabic word, kalla, [كَلاَّ] is a command to desist. You think that reckoning and accountability are falsehoods, and this is precisely the cause of your impudence and negligence of duties. How can any person disbelieve in the judgment and still lead a life based on goodness and right guidance? Some people may achieve a higher degree of faith: they worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala because they love Him, neither out of fear of punishment nor in hope of reward. But these people continue to believe in the Last Judgment. They fear it and look forward to it at the same time, because they hope to be with their beloved Lord. When man, however, flatly rejects the Day of Judgement his heart and conscience die.
You deny the Day of Judgment when you will certainly face it. Everything you do in this life will be counted for or against you. Nothing is lost, nothing forgotten, “And indeed, [appointed] over you are keepers, noble and recording; they know whatever you do,” [82: 10-12]. These recorders are the angels charged with accompanying people, watching them and recording all what they do and say. We do not live in vain. There are noble recorders who note what we do, therefore, we need to be always alert and prudent.
Since the atmosphere of the Surah is one of benevolence and nobility, the description of those recorders is that they are “noble”. It is natural for people to exercise extra care not to say or do anything impolite or disgraceful when they are in the presence of people whose character reflects nobility. How careful would they be if they realized they were always in the presence of angels?
We are then told of the destinies of the righteous and the wicked, which are determined by the reckoning based on the recordings of the noble angels. The end is certain. That the righteous shall dwell in blissful happiness and the wicked shall end in hell is already determined. A righteous person is the one who consistently does right actions, i.e. good deeds, until doing them becomes his intrinsic quality.
The contrasting quality, ‘wickedness’, carries connotations of insolence and impudence as the wicked indulge in sinful actions. Hell is a proper recompense for wickedness. The Surah emphasizes the certainty of this punishment: “They will [enter to] burn therein on the Day of Recompense, and never therefrom will they be absent,” [82: 15-16]. They cannot escape it in the first place, nor will they be allowed to leave it, not even for a short while.
Having stated what happens on the Day of Judgment, the Surah emphasizes again the certainty of that day, since it is denied by some. It then states the complete helplessness of everyone, the absolute impossibility of giving or receiving support and that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is the absolute sovereign on that Day, “It is the Day when a soul will not possess for another soul [power to do] a thing; and the command, that Day, is [entirely] with Allah,” [82: 19].
It is a state of total helplessness when everyone stands alone, busy with their own problems, unable to think of anyone else, relative or friend. Only Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reigns supreme in this life and the next. This fact, however, becomes so clear on that Day that no one can overlook it, as the ignorant and the conceited do in this life.
The Surah closes with an air of fear and speechless expectation in contrasts to its violent and horrific beginning.
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