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Quran Chapter 54 - The Moon - Evil Destroyed the Nations that Belied Their Messengers

A Meccan sura dealing mainly with the punishment dealt out to previous generations of disbelievers. These are presented as a warning to the disbelievers of Mecca, with the refrain ‘Will anyone take heed?’ running throughout the sura. Finally the treatment of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement is contrasted to the everlasting bliss the believers will enjoy. The title is taken from verse 1 and is a reference to the Day of Resurrection.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

The Day of Resurrection

1 The Hour draws near; the moon is split in two. [a]

2 Whenever the disbelievers see a sign, they turn away and say, ‘Same old sorcery!’ 3 They reject the truth and follow their own desires––everything is recorded [b] –– 4 although warning tales that should have restrained them have come down to them–– 5 far-reaching wisdom––but these warnings do not help: 6 so [Prophet] turn away from them. On the Day the Summoner will summon them to a horrific event, 7 eyes downcast, they will come out of their graves like swarming locusts 8 rushing towards the Summoner. The disbelievers will cry, ‘This is a stern day!’

Evil Destroyed the Nations that Belied Their Messengers

9 The people of Noah rejected the truth before them: they rejected Our servant, saying, ‘He is mad!’ Noah was rebuked, 10 and so he called upon his Lord, ‘I am defeated: help me!’ 11 So We opened the gates of the sky with torrential water, 12 burst the earth with gushing springs: the waters met for a preordained purpose. 13 We carried him along on a vessel of planks and nails 14 that floated under Our watchful eye, a reward for the one who had been rejected. 15 We have left this [c] as a sign: will anyone take heed? 16 How [terrible] was My punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings! 17 We have made it easy to learn lessons from the Quran: will anyone take heed?

18 The people of Ad also rejected the truth. How [terrible] was My punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings! 19 We released a howling wind against them on a day of terrible disaster; 20 it swept people away like uprooted palm trunks. 21 How [terrible] was My punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings! 22 We have made it easy to learn lessons from the Quran: will anyone take heed?

23 The people of Thamud also rejected the warnings: 24 they said, ‘What? A man? Why should we follow a lone man from amongst ourselves? That would be misguided; quite insane! 25 Would a message be given to him alone out of all of us? No, he is an insolent liar!’ 26 ‘Tomorrow they will know who is the insolent liar, 27 for We shall send them a she-camel to test them: so watch them [Salih] and be patient. 28 Tell them the water is to be shared between them: [d] each one should drink in turn.’ 29 But they called their companion, who took a sword and hamstrung the camel. 30 How [terrible] was My punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings! 31 We released a single mighty blast against them and they ended up like a fencemaker’s dry sticks. 32 We have made it easy to learn lessons from the Quran: will anyone take heed?

33 The people of Lot rejected the warnings. 34 We released a stone bearing wind against them, all except the family of Lot. We saved them before dawn 35 as a favor from Us: this is how We reward the thankful. 36 He warned them of Our onslaught, but they dismissed the warning– 37 they even demanded his guests from him– so We sealed their eyes–‘ Taste My [terrible] punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings!’– 38 and early in the morning a punishment seized them that still remains– 39 ‘Taste My [terrible] punishment and [the fulfilment of] My warnings!’ 40 We have made it easy to learn lessons from the Quran: will anyone take heed?

41 The people of Pharaoh also received warnings. 42 They rejected all Our signs so We seized them with all Our might and power.

Threatening the Polytheists

43 ‘Are your disbelievers [e] any better than these? Were you given an exemption in the Scripture?’ 44 Do they perhaps say, ‘We are a great army and we shall be victorious’? 45 Their forces will be routed and they will turn tail and flee. [f] 46 But the Hour is their appointed time– the Hour is more severe and bitter: 47 truly the wicked are misguided and quite insane [g] –– 48 on the Day when they are dragged on their faces in Hell. ‘Feel the touch of Hell.’ 49 We have created all things in due measure; 50 when We ordain something it happens at once, in the blink of an eye; 51 We have destroyed the likes of you in the past. Will anyone take heed?

52 Everything they do is noted in their records: 53 every action, great or small, is recorded. 54 The righteous will live securely among Gardens and rivers, 55 secure in the presence of an all-powerful Sovereign.


a. One of the signs of the Day of Judgement. The Arabic uses the past tense, as if that Day were already here, to help the reader/listener imagine how it will be. Some traditional commentators hold the view that this describes an actual event at the time of the Prophet, but it clearly refers to the end of the world: cf. the same expression with reference to the sky, 55: 37; 84: 1.

b. Literally ‘fixed’ in the divine records.

c. ‘This tale’ or ‘this ship’.

d. And the she-camel (see 26: 155).

e. Of Mecca.

f. The Prophet repeated this verse at the Battle of Badr.

g. See verse 24 above.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.