Quran Chapter 89 - Daybreak - Social Welfare
A Meccan sura in which God emphasizes (by oath) that the tyrants of the Prophet’s time will be like those He dealt with in the past. The sura compares the destiny of the ungrateful with that of the souls at peace.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
1 By the Daybreak, 2 by the Ten Nights, [a] 3 by the even and the odd, [b] 4 by the passing night [c] –– 5 is this oath strong enough for a rational person?
6 Have you [Prophet] considered how your Lord dealt with [the people] of Ad, [d] 7 of Iram, [the city] of lofty pillars, 8 whose like has never been made in any land, 9 and the Thamud, [e] who hewed into the rocks in the valley, 10 and the mighty and powerful [f] Pharaoh? 11 All of them committed excesses in their lands, 12 and spread corruption there: 13 your Lord let a scourge of punishment loose on them. 14 Your Lord is always watchful.
15 [The nature of] mang is that, when his Lord tries him through honor and blessings, he says, ‘My Lord has honored me,’ 16 but when He tries him through the restriction of his provision, he says, ‘My Lord has humiliated me.’ 17 No indeed! You [people] do not honor orphans, 18 you do not urge one another to feed the poor, 19 you consume inheritance [h] greedily, 20 and you love wealth with a passion. 21 No indeed! When the earth is pounded to dust, pounded and pounded, 22 when your Lord comes with the angels, rank upon rank, 23 when Hell is that Day brought near– on that Day man will take heed, but what good will that be to him then? 24 He will say, ‘Would that I had provided for this life to come!’ 25 On that Day, no one will punish as He punishes, 26 and no one will bind as He binds. 27 ‘[But] you, soul at peace: [i] 28 return to your Lord well pleased and well pleasing; 29 go in among My servants; 30 and into My Garden.’
a. This refers to the first ten nights of the month of Dhu ’l-Hijjah, sacred before and after the Prophet’s time, which culminate in the Hajj pilgrimage.
b. This has been interpreted in many ways: as a reference to numbers (as translated here); or e.g. as the multiple (God’s creation) and the One (God Himself).
c. The complement of this oath is left unmentioned, to be understood from what follows. The commentators use this to complete the oath with ‘they will be punished’ based on the context of what follows. The omission reinforces the oath, as one has to think more carefully in order to grasp it, a device known in Arabic rhetoric as hadhf al-jawab (cf. 38: 1; 50: 1).
d. See 26: 123 ff.
e. See 26: 141 ff.
f. Dhu’l-awtad, ‘of the stakes’, is explained as a Bedouin expression conveying strength and power. Another interpretation is that Pharaoh used stakes as implements of torture.
g. Insan ‘man’ occurs sixty-five times in the Quran. It applies to both men and women, as of course does the generic ‘man’ in English.
h. This could refer to the inheritance of orphans (see 4: 2 and 4: 10) or inheritance generally.
i. At peace through remembering God in this life and the next (cf. 13: 28), unlike the disbeliever who only takes heed on the Day of Judgement, when it will not benefit him. There is iltifat here: the sinners are mentioned in the third person while the honored are addressed directly by their Lord.
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.