In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Period of Revelation: Makkan
Order of Revelation: 81
Theme and Subject Matter:
The Surah opens with oaths sworn by the angels who take the soul at the time of death hastening to carry out Allah’s commands. They are neither negligent of their duties nor lethargic. They are racing with one another in honoring Allah’s commands.
This equivocal, shaking opening is followed by the first of those scenes which deal with the Hereafter. Just a single jolt will upset the entire system of the world. At that time the same people who were denying Resurrection would be trembling with fear and seeing with awestruck eyes all that they thought was impossible.
Then, relating the story of the Prophet Musa ‘alayhi salaam and Pharaoh briefly, the people have been warned to the effect: You know well what fate the Pharaoh met in consequence of belying the Messenger and rejecting the guidance brought by him and endeavoring to defeat his mission by trickery and deceit. If you do not learn any lesson from it and do not change your ways and attitude accordingly, you also will have to meet the same fate.
Leaving history aside, the Surah then gives arguments for the Hereafter and life after death. In this regard, the deniers have been asked the question if their resurrection a more difficult task or the creation of the huge universe. Thus, after presenting in a single sentence, a decisive argument for the possibility of the Hereafter, attention has been drawn to the earth and its provisions that have been arranged in it for the sustenance of man and animal and of which everything testifies that it has been created with great wisdom for fulfilling some special purpose.
Then comes a statement about the great and overwhelming event, which will be accompanied by the distribution of rewards for actions done in this life.
“The Day when man will remember that for which he strove.” [79: 35]
At this point, when we are overwhelmed by the respective fates of the transgressors who prefer this life to the next, and the God-fearing who restrain themselves, the Surah turns to those who deny the resurrection, yet ask the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to fix its time. In reply, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that the knowledge of the time of its occurrence rests with Him alone. The Messenger is there only to give the warning that it will certainly come. Now, whoever wishes may mend his ways, fearing its coming, and whoever wishes may behave and conduct himself as he likes, fearless of its coming. When the appointed time comes, those very people who loved the life of this world and regarded its pleasures as the only object of life would feel that they had stayed in the world only for an hour or so. Then they will realize how utterly they had ruined their future forever for the sake of the short-lived pleasures of the world.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala not make us of those who will have regrets in the Hereafter, aameen.