Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yusuf Ali’s Explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Explanation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can be read in ‘verse by verse’ view.
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
‘This is an early Makkan Surah, the fifth in the series dealing with Judgement, and the truth of Revelation, as explained in the introduction to Surah 50..
The theme of the Surah is explained by the refrain: "Is there any that will receive admonition?" which occurs six times, at the end of each reference to a past story of sin and rejection of warnings and in the appeal to the simplicity of Quran (verses 15, 17, 22, 32, 40, and 51). There is an invitation to listen to the Message and turn to Truth and Righteousness.
Summary- The Hour of Judgement is nigh, but men forget or reject the Message, and did the people of Noah, of 'Ad, of Thamud, of Lut, and Pharaoh. Is there any that will receive admonition? (54:1-55, and C.231).’
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
‘AS RAZI points out, the first verse of this surah appears almost like a continuation of the last verses of the preceding one, especially 53: 57 - "that [Last Hour] which is so near draws ever nearer" -: and so we may assume that both were revealed at approximately the same time, i.e., towards the end of the early part (perhaps the fourth year) of Muhammad's prophethood.’
The title of this Chapter ‘Al Qamar’ is taken from the first verse, which refers to the approach of the (final) ‘Hour’ when (cataclysmic changes occur and) the moon is ‘split/ cracked.’ Whether this ‘split/ crack’ has already taken place, or has yet to take place, is a matter of ‘gheyb/ unseen,’ which we can expect to remain a matter of debate.
Read Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad’s explanations of these verses, and see footnote[i] for interesting arguments in this regard.
HIGHLY important in this chapter, is its refrain, repeated four times in between narratives of previous people who had belied their Messengers. This refrain is made up of two verses. While the first verse questions listeners as to the suffering borne by aforementioned people in return for unheeded warnings, the second verse makes an important statement and asks a direct, challenging question:
وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ
‘We have indeed ‘facilitated/ made easy’ the Qur’an for the purpose of Remembrance,
so is there any who remembers?’
This repeated verse is highly important in our study because it validates what our research has uncovered:
The dynamic of the uncommon, specifically-used noun ‘Qur’an.’
Regular Readers will remember that the common noun from the verb ‘to read/قرأ qara’a’ is qiraa’ah-قراءة, or a ‘reading.’ They will also remember that this compilation was never called a common ‘qiraa’ah.’ Furthermore, no other compilation was ever called Qur’an!
Qur’aan: Any noun in accordance with ‘fa’laan’ has superlative features which are current and active.
It is this compilation which becomes ‘qur’an’ when approached by a ‘qaare/ reader’ who interacts with it. As we said earlier, ‘Qur’an’ is dynamic, while ‘Kitaab’ is static.
New Readers: Please search for the six components of qara’a. Put ‘static kitaab’ in ‘Search this Site.’ Also search ‘fa’laan.’
This difference is VERY important. The essence of our entire research cannot be grasped without understanding this issue.
Only if you understood what we are talking about, would you be able to see and interact with the Qur’an as a current ‘living, life-giving’ entity sent to YOU by The Living God. Otherwise it will remain a superbly wise yet static, centuries-old ‘compilation.’
That is why the Qur’an is mentioned here, in REAL time, as being facilitated for remembrance… and that is why each listener is asked, in REAL time, whether or not s/he chooses to be of those who remember!
PAGE 528 Arabic Qur’an
1. Verses 1-5 recount the wisdom and warnings being rejected (by Qureish), faulting them for following their own ‘plummeting desires.’
Verse 6 tells the Messenger to turn away from them, pending a ‘terrible/ inconceivable’ day (Ali/ Asad).
Verses 7-8 describe their emergence from their graves on that day; their eyes humbled as they scatter about like locusts… finally heeding the caller. The Deniers then state that this is indeed a strenuous day!
PAGE 529 Arabic Qur’an
2. Verses 9- 15 recount the lesson to be learnt from Noah’s story, in which his people too had belied him, calling him a madman/ possessed.
As we mentioned earlier, each time a story is recounted, we get new details.
Here we learn how the earth sprung water, as did the skies; the water joining together for a projected purpose (put ‘qadr’ in Search this Site). We also learn that ‘it’ -which seems to refer to the Arc- was left as a ‘Sign’ (for posterity).
In Verses 16-17 we first hear the beautiful refrain repeated four times in this chapter: It tells listeners that the Qur’an DYNAMIC HAS BEEN PLACED WITHIN OUR EASY REACH AND MADE ACCESSIBLE TO US, and then it asks the heart-stopping question, whether among us there is anyone of remembrance/ anyone who remembers?...
‘Then is there any that will receive admonition?’ (Ali)
‘Who, then, is willing to take it to heart?’ (Asad)
Upon hearing that, we are reminded of our origin with God, our mission on earth, and our return to Him!
Remember what we said, dear Reader, about the Qur’an being interactive, where each question gets its answer, even in silence?
So, let each of us here respond: ‘God-willing, I am of Those who Remember!’
3. After the refrain, Verses 18- 21 mention the ‘Aad people, who belied their Messenger ‘Hud/ Hood,’ peace upon him, and describes the consequence of their disbelief when the Wind displaced them, taking them like uprooted palm-tree ‘roots/ trunks’ (Ali/ Asad). This description is similar to HQ 69:7.
4. Verse 22 is the REFRAIN, where listeners are driven to pause for thought, and to respond.
Then Verses 23- 31 mention the ‘Thamud/ Thamood’ people, who had belied their Messenger Salih, peace upon him, calling him a liar, and refusing the thought that he could have been ‘chosen’ from amongst them to bear the Reminder. They disobey their Messenger, and the consequence for that is retold in brief; they end up like no more than ‘dry stubble’ (Ali).
PAGE 530 Arabic Qur’an
5. Verse 32 is the REFRAIN, where listeners are driven to pause for thought, and to respond.
Then Verses 33- 39 mention the people of Lot, who had belied their Messenger Lot, peace upon him. Heedless to all warning, they even attacked his guests. The consequence of their refusal is retold in brief, and they are told to taste the suffering and the warning.
Verse 40 is the REFRAIN, where listeners are driven to pause for thought, and to respond.
6. Verses 41- 42 mention Pharaoh and his people very briefly; Pharaoh belied ALL God’s Signs, and was therefore forcefully seized.
Then, after mentioning all the previous peoples who had belied their Messengers, Verse 43 asks listeners a direct question, whether THEIR deniers are any better than the earlier ones, or whether any previous scripture had granted them absolution?
This direct question forces deniers to think:
Are we any better than the people we had just heard about, whose stories we are familiar with, and who met dire consequences? What are we relying on?
I think this question would have positive results with people who believed in God and in His Justice. Those who don’t believe in God might feel nothing.
Then Verses 44- 46 respond to those who think that power is in numbers, asserting that their numbers shall be defeated, and they shall soon turn their backs in retreat. Indeed, the Hour is their appointed date, and the Hour is most grievous and bitter!
After that, Verses 47- 48 give us a glimpse into the Fire, where those who had ‘extracted themselves from faith/ mujrim’ are being dragged ‘as per their own directions/ on their faces,’ and told to taste of it.
PAGE 531 Arabic Qur’an
7. Then, Verse 49 tells us that God had created EVERYTHING with ‘qadar/ projected end’ (Ali and Asad: ‘…due measure and proportion’), while Verse 50 draws for us a likeness of the ease/ speed by which God conducts matters.
I understand ‘qadar’ to refer to the complete array of God-given natural tendencies in every organism/ cell to fulfill itself, regardless of changing circumstances (see HQ 87:3), rather than seeing ‘qadar’ as a finite, limited ‘measure’ of something (put ‘qadar’ in ‘Search this Site’).
Verse 51-53 tells listeners how people like them were ‘broken-down/ halaak,’ as everything they’d done was recorded… and asks, for the final time: IS THERE ANY AMONG YOU WHO WOULD REMEMBER?
After all these verses of Dissuasion, we have two beautiful verses of Persuasion:
Verses 54- 55 tell us of the Aware, being amid gardens and rivers, in a seat of Truth, (as decreed) by a Sovereign Infinite/ Muqtadir (Ali/ Asad: ‘Omnipotent/ who determines all things).
May we be among them.
Peace unto all!
[i] Interesting arguments:
· Some ‘traditional’ commentators have posited that this refers to an actual ‘miracle’ which is reported to have taken place during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime (peace upon him, as reported in prophetic tradition ‘hadeeth’). Their report (narrated in Bukhari) states that the moon split into two halves which were seen by Meccans as if positioned on either side of the Mount of ‘Hiraa,’ and that this ‘sight’ was later confirmed by travelers.
· Other commentators consider this phrase an Arab idiom, common at the time, indicating that one has ‘reached the end of the line.’ In their opinion, ‘The end is near and the moon has split/ cracked’ indicates that NOTHING will ever convince Qureish.
· Then, there are those who discredit the Qur’an and state that the phrase ‘nearing of the hour and splitting of the moon’ are similar to those reportedly composed by the famous poet of pre-Islam ‘Umru’ul Qays.’ These persons accuse Prophet Muhammad of putting together the Qur’an himself, and they believe that he had used part of a ‘stanza’ (a similar image, using 3 identical words: Hour, Moon, split/crack) from a famous poet who had died 30 years before his birth.
But the latter were challenged by Arab linguists and historians who quite rightfully stated that, had these verses been indeed those of ‘Umru’ul Qays,’ Qureish would have been the first to note it (although they had called Muhammad a poet, they had never accused him of stealing someone else’s poetry!). Also, some went further, asserting that ‘Umru’ul Qays’ was a highly eloquent poet, and the verses attributed to him –which contain these words- are beneath his standard and there is no proof that they are his. They believe that they were attributed to him after the Qur’an was revealed.
Perhaps the phrase was an Arab idiom, but even if it was, the Qur’an speaks truths:
I believe that all Qur’anic ‘imagery’ has realistic portent, which we might not always be able to grasp, and in some cases, simply cannot.
If the Qur’an says so, then the moon may have ‘cracked,’ shall ‘split/crack,’ or both.
Science tells us that that the moon’s crust is active, and has ‘cracked’ quite recently[i] (perhaps in our own lifetime) due to tectonic activity (read Huffington Post).