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Quran Chapter 56 - That Which is Coming - Three Distinct Groups: Those Near to God, Winners, Losers

A Meccan sura whose central message is stated in its opening verses, from which the sura takes its title: the Day of Judgement is inevitable and it will sort people into the humiliated and the richly rewarded. As in the previous sura, people are divided into three classes: those brought near to God (the best of the believers), those on the right (the ordinary believers), and those on the left (the disbelievers). Ample proof is given of God’s power and consequently His ability to bring about the Resurrection (verses 57–72).

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

Three Distinct Groups

1 When that which is coming arrives, 2 no one will be able to deny it has come, 3 bringing low and raising high. 4 When the earth is shaken violently 5 and the mountains are ground to powder 6 and turn to scattered dust, 7 then you will be sorted into three classes. 8 Those on the Right––what people they are! 9 Those on the Left––what people they are! 10 And those in front––ahead indeed!

Those Near to God

11 For these will be the ones brought nearest to God 12 in Gardens of Bliss: 13 many from the past 14 and a few from later generations. 15 On couches of well-woven cloth 16 they will sit facing each other; 17 everlasting youths will go round among them 18 with glasses, flagons, and cups of a pure drink 19 that causes no headache or intoxication; 20 [there will be] any fruit they choose; 21 the meat of any bird they like; 22 and beautiful companions 23 like hidden pearls: 24 a reward for what they used to do. 25 They will hear no idle or sinful talk there, 26 only clean and wholesome [a] speech.

The Winners

27 Those on the Right, what people they are! 28 They will dwell amid thornless lote trees 29 and clustered acacia 30 with spreading shade, 31 constantly flowing water, 32 abundant fruits, 33 unfailing, unforbidden, 34 with incomparable companions [b] 35 We have specially created–– 36 virginal, 37 loving, of matching age–– 38 for those on the Right, 39 many from the past 40 and many from later generations.

The Losers

41 But those on the Left, what people they are! 42 They will dwell amid scorching wind and scalding water 43 in the shadow of black smoke, 44 neither cool nor refreshing. 45 Before, they overindulged in luxury 46 and persisted in great sin, 47 always saying, ‘What? When we are dead and have become dust and bones, shall we then be raised up? 48 And our earliest forefathers too?’ 49 Say [Prophet], ‘The earliest and latest generations 50 will all be gathered on a predetermined Day 51 and you who have gone astray and denied the truth 52 will eat from the bitter tree of Zaqqum, 53 filling your bellies with it, 54 and drink scalding water, 55 lapping it like thirsty camels.’ 56 This will be their welcome on the Day of Judgement.

Ponder God’s Majesty

57 It was We who created you: will you not believe? 58 Consider [the semen] you eject– 59 do you create it yourselves or are We the Creator? 60 We ordained death to be among you. Nothing could stop Us 61 if We intended to change you and recreate you in a way unknown to you. 62 You have learned how you were first created: will you not reflect? 63Consider the seeds you sow in the ground– 64 is it you who make them grow or We? 65 If We wished, We could turn your harvest into chaff and leave you to wail, 66 ‘We are burdened with debt; 67 we are bereft.’ 68 Consider the water you drink– 69 was it you who brought it down from the rain-cloud or We? 70 If We wanted, We could make it bitter: will you not be thankful? 71 Consider the fire you kindle– 72 is it you who make the wood for it grow or We? 73 We made it a reminder, and useful to those who kindle it, [a] 74 so [Prophet] glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.

There is No Escape

75 I swear by the positions of the stars– 76 a mighty oath, if you only knew– 77 that this is truly a noble Quran, 78 in a protected Record 79 that only the purified can touch, 80 sent down from the Lord of all being. 81 How can you scorn this statement? 82 And how, in return for the livelihood you are given, can you deny it? 83 When the soul of a dying man comes up to his throat 84 while you gaze on– 85 We are nearer to him than you, though you do not see Us– 86 why, if you are not to be judged, 87 do you not restore his soul to him, if what you say is true?

88 If that dying person is one of those who will be brought near to God, 89 he will have rest, ease, and a Garden of Bliss; 90 if he is one of those on the Right, 91 [he will hear], ‘Peace be on you,’ from his companions on the Right; 92 but if he is one of those who denied the truth and went astray, 93 he will be welcomed with scalding water. 94 He will burn in Hell.

95 This is the certain truth: 96 [Prophet], glorify the name of your Lord the Supreme.


a. Salam is used adjectivally here (Razi). Another interpretation is ‘Peace! Peace!’

b. Alternatively ‘couches raised high’. See Razi for both these interpretations.

a. This interpretation of muqwin is supported by Razi. The alternatives to ‘those who kindle it’ are ‘the desert-dwellers’ or ‘the travelers’.

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.

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