The Day of Judgment and the Earth
The first part of the Surahs narrates how the world will come to an end. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
The word zalzalah contains four root letter zay-lam-zay-lam which mean to slip, slide or be removed from one place. Therefore, the word zalzalah means to shake violently over and over again.
By repeating this word twice in the same ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is indicating that on the Day of Judgment, the earth will be shaken so heavily that it will become unstable for humans as well as other creations. On that Day, a person will trip over himself unable to keep a balance. It will appear that people are drunk but in reality they would not be.
This is similar to what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah Hajj,
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ ۚ
إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ
“O mankind! Fear your Lord and be dutiful to Him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (of Judgment) is a terrible thing,” (Al-Hajj 22: 1).
The word ‘Idhaa’ (when) is used to remind people of something important that will without a doubt happen in the future. It is something that they keep forgetting about.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala hints in this ayah that it is not difficult for Him to command the earth to shake violently and destroy everything that’s on it. It is like a role that the earth was informed about at the time of its creation that it has to fulfill.
“And when the earth throws out its burdens,” (99: 2). The word ‘akhraja’ means to take something out. According to the tafseer Ibn Kathir this means the earth will throw forth that which is in it of the deed. This is similar to Allah’s statement in Surah al-Inshiqaq Ayah 1.
Now, this has several meanings. It may be referring to the treasures of the world as well as the dead. The earth will expel all of its treasures the minerals and natural resources for which people fight today. Then people will be resurrected. When those who denied the Hereafter would come out of their graves they would not look at the treasures of the world. These were the things with which they filled their bellies, fought with one another and committed murders. It would be the Day when their eyes will finally open up. They will realize how worthless the treasures of dunya had been for which they spent their entire lives instead of building a relationship and connecting with their Creator. Grasping the truth, he will submit to the fact that final success can only come from Allah’s pleasure.
It also means that the earth will reveal everything that people had been doing on it regardless of where they have been located. Our private and public life is being recorded right now and the video will be shown on the Day of Judgment.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is fully aware of what we are doing at the moment, the angels are witnessing it as well, however, on the Day of Judgment everything will be brought before others. All records of the words we spoke and the deeds we perform will be expelled out.
Muslim recorded in his Saheeh from Abu Hurairah radhiAllahu ‘anhu that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The earth will throw out the pieces of its liver (its contents). Gold and silver will come out like columns. A murderer will come and say, ‘I killed for this.’ The one who broke the ties of kinship will say, ‘For this I severed the ties of kinship.’ The thief will say, ‘For this I got my hands amputated.’ Then they will leave it there and no one will take anything from it.”
It is said that on the Day of Judgment, when the earth will let out all its burdens (the sins that it has been recording or holding on to) it will give out a sigh of relief from the pain that it carried. There is corruption everywhere; in the land as well as the sea. Minor earthquakes are an indication that the earth is releasing some of its burdens.
- Surah Az-Zalzalzah – An Overview