al-Muddaththir · Juz 29 · Qur'an Tafseer

Surah al-Muddathir — An Overview

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

Period of Revelation: Makkan

Background of Revelation:

Surah al-Muddathir is one of the first Surahs to be revealed. We learn through authentic ahadeeth that revelation was suspended for quite some time. This period of temporary cessation of revelation is termed as fatrat-ul-wahi. It was a time of intense depression and grief for the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He would go on top of the mountains to throw himself down. But whenever he stood on the edge of a peak, Angel Jibreel ‘alayhi salaam would appear and tell him that he was a Prophet of Allah. This affirmation would console him and restore peace in his mind.

Towards the end of fatrat-ul-wahi, an incident took place that is narrated by Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah radhiAllahu ‘anhu that the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

“One day while I was walking, I heard a voice from the sky. I lifted my gaze towards the sky and saw the same angel who had come to me in the cave of Hira. He was sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth.

I was struck with awe until I fell down to the ground. Then, I went to my family and said, ‘Cover me up, cover me up!’ So, they covered me up with a quilt (or blanket). At that time Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed the initial ayaat of Surah al-Muddathir.” [Bukhari, Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Jareer]

Theme and Subject Matter:

We know that the first ayaat to be revealed to the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were that of Surah ‘Alaq. In those ayaat, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not given any injunctions rather he was only informed about the creation of man and a brief introduction of his Creator. This was the first experience of the Prophet with revelation. There was a need to leave him alone for sometime so that the message could sit in and he could prepare himself for several similar experiences in the future.

After this intermission when revelation was resumed, the first seven ayaat of this Surah were revealed. These ayaat brought along six commandments,


  1. Arise and warn! (74:2)
  2. And your Lord (Allah) magnify! (74:3)
  3. And your garments purify! (74:4)
  4. And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols). (74:5)
  5. And give not a thing in order to have more. (74:6)
  6. And be patient for the sake of your Lord (i.e. perform your duty to Allah). (74:7)


This was the first time that he was commanded to arise and warn the people of the consequences of the way of life they were following and to proclaim the greatness of God in the world where others were being magnified without any right. It was an honorable mission that he had to perform. Therefore, it demanded that he purified himself and his life from every kind of impurity. He was to carry out his duty of reforming himself and the people sincerely irrespective of any worldly gain. Because all that he was instructed to do was intimidating he was exhorted to endure with patience, for the sake of his Lord; all the hardships and troubles that he might have to face while performing his mission.

After laying down the pre-requisites of da’wah, in ayaat 8-10 Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes the fate of those who deny the Message.  That Day when the Trumpet is blown that will be a hard day for the disbelievers.

In ayaat 11-26, without naming Waleed bin al-Mugheerah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala narrates that He had blessed him with abundant resources yet how inimical he proved to be. His mental conflict has been portrayed that on the one hand he was fully convinced of the truth of Muhammad (salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Qur’an, but, on the other, he did not want to risk his leadership and position among his people. Not only did he not believe himself he also came out with the proposal to restrain people from believing in the Qur’an. After exposing his evil nature, it was said that he was worthy of Hell.

We then read about the dreadfulness of the Hell, and the character of people who deserve it.

In ayaat 49-53, the root cause of the disbelievers’ aversion has been pointed out. They are fearless of the Hereafter, and look upon this worldly life as an end in itself. They flee from the Qur’an as though they were wild asses fleeing away from the lion. Each of them desires that a written text must come from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala confirming that Islam is the right religion and Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is the Messenger of Allah.

The Surah ends with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala explicitly stating that He does not stand in need of anybody’s faith. The Qur’an is an admonition that has been presented before the people openly; now whoever wills may accept it. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has a right that the people should fear His disobedience and He alone has the power to forgive the one who adopts piety and an attitude of God consciousness (taqwa) even though one may have committed many acts of disobedience in the past.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala allow us to replace the fear of people with the fear of Allah (alone), and make us the people of taqwa who leave every forbidden act for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alone, aameen.

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