HOME | Intro | Ramadan E-Cards | Updates* | Article Of The Month | Send Us a Message - Vieuw Visitors' Messages | MSN/YAHOO GROUPS | Qur'an | Sunnah | Islamic Law | Tafsir | UNITY | Dhikr | Imaan | Non-Muslims | Five Pillars | Tazkiyah | Da'wah | Family/Marriage | Muslim Kids Corner ! | Sisters Section | Brothers Section | Authors | Social Issues | History | Inspirational | Death and The Hereafter | Health | SPECIAL PAGES | Islamic Countries | Picture Gallery | Links
In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 88

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 88
Syed Qutb
 Sura 88
                               THE ENVELOPER
                               AL  GHASHIYAH

            In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

  Have you heard the story of the Enveloper? Some faces on that day are
  downcast, labour weary, toilworn, roasting at a scorching flre, made to
  drink from a boiling fountain. Their only food shall be the fruit of
  Dhari', which will neither nourish nor satisfy their hunger. Other faces
  on that day are jocund, well-pleased with their striving, in a sublime
  garden, where they hear no babble. A running fountain shall be there,
  and raised couches, and cushions laid in order, and carpets outspread.
  Let them reRect how the camel was created; how heaven was lifted up; how
  the mountains were hoisted; how the earth was outstretched. Therefore give
  warning; your mission is only to warn them. You are not their overseer.
  But he who turns his back and disbelieves, Allah shall inflict on him
  the greatest chastisement. To Us they shall surely return, when We shall
  bring them to account.

                         In the Shade of the Qur'an

  This surah is a deep and calm melody which invites meditation, hope and
  fear, and warns man to be ready for the day of reckoning. It carries man's
  heart into two vast spheres: the life hereafter, its limitless world and
  moving scenes; and the visible sphere of existence, with the signs Allah
  has spread in all the creatures sharing this existence, held out for every
  one to see. After these two great scenarios, the surah reminds man of the
  reckoning on the Day of Judgement, of Allah's power, and of the inevitable
  return to Him. Throughout, the style is characterised by its depth of
  tone: it is calm but highly effective, powerful, and awesome.

  "Have you heard the story of the Enveloper?" With this introduction, the
  surah wants to make human hearts turn back to Allah, to remind men of His
  signs in the universe, His reckoning on the Day of Judgement, and His
  certain reward. It starts with this inquiry, which implies greatness and
  indicates a positive statement. It points out that the question of the
  hereafter had already been affirmed and earlier reminders had been given.
  The Day of Resurrection is here given a new name, "the Enveloper", which
  suggests that a calamity will befall mankind and envelop them with its
  horrors. It is one of the evocative names mentioned in the thirtieth part
  of the Qur'an. Others are: "the Overwhelming", "the Deafening", "the
  Stunning Event". They are all very suitable to the general tone and
  nature of this part.

  The Prophet (peace be on him) whenevcr he listened to this surah would
  feel that the address "Have you heard ..." was directed to him personally,
  as if he was receiving it from his Lord directly for the first time. He
  was extremely moved by Allah's address to him. The reality of this Divine
  address was always present in his mind. A tradition related by Umar ibn
  Maymoon says that the Prophet once passed by a woman who was reading the
  surah . When she read "Have you heard the story of the Enveloper ...?" he
  stopped to listen and said "Yes, I have heard it."

  The address is nevertheless a general one, directed to everyone who hears
  the Qur'an. The story of the Enveloper is the oft-repeated theme in the
  Qur'an, reminding men of the hereafter, warning them of its punishment,
  and promising its rewards. It is a story which aims to awaken men's
  consciences, to arouse their fear and apprehension as well as their hope
  and expectancy.
  After asking "Have you heard the story of the Enveloper?", the surah
  relates a part of this story: "Somefaces on that day are downcast, labour
  weary, toilworn, roasting at a scorching fire, made to drink from a boiling
  fountain. Their only food shall be the fruit of Dhari, which will neither
  nourish nor satisfy their hunger." The scene of suffering and torture is
  given before the scene of joy, because the former is closer to the
  connotations and impressions of "the Enveloper".
  Thus we are told that there are on that day faces which look humble, down
  cast and toilworn. They belong to people who have laboured and toiled
  without any satisfactory results. Indeed the results they get are a total
  loss, which increases their disappointment, and causes looks of
  humiliation and exhaustion on their faces. Hence they are described as
  "labour weary, toilworn". They had laboured and toiled for something
  different than the cause of Allah. Their work was totally for themselves
  and their families, for their own ambitions in the worldly life. Then
  they come to reap the fruits of their toil, not having made any provisions
  for the future life. Hence they face the end with a mixture of humiliation,
  exhaustion, misery and hopelessness. In addition to all this they roast
  "at a scorching fire."

  They are "made to drink from a boiling fountain. Their only food shall be
  thefruit of Dhari', which will neither nourish nor satisfy their hunger."
  Dhari' is said to be a tree of fire in Hell. This explanation is based on
  what has been revealed about the tree of "zayqoom" which grows at the
  centre of Hell. It is also said to be a kind of cactus thorn, which when
  green is called "shabraq" and is eaten by camels. However, when it is
  fully grown it cannot be eaten as it becomes poisonous. Whatever it is
  in reality, it is a kind of food like "ghisleen" and "ghassaaq" (names
  given by the Qur'an to refer to the food available in Hell) which neither
  nourishes nor appeases hunger.
  It is obvious that we, in this world, cannot fully comprehend the nature
  of that suffering and torture in the hereafter. The description is made
  in order to give our human perceptions the feeling of the greatest
  possible pain, which is produced by a combination of humiliation,
  weakness, failure, the scorching fire, drinking and bathing in boiling
  water, and eating food unacceptable even to the camels.
  From all these aspects we get a feeling of the ultimate affliction. But
  the affliction of the hereafter is, nevertheless, greater. Its true nature
  is incomprehensible except to those who will actually experience it. May
  Allah never count us among them.

  On the other hand we find "other faces on that day are jocund, well
  pleased with their striving, in a sublime garden, where they hear no
  babble. A running fountain shall be there, and raised couches, and goblets
  set forth, and cushions laid in order, and carpets outspread." Here are
  faces bright with joy, animated with pleasure. They are well-pleased with
  what they are given. They enjoy that splendid, spiritual feeling of
  satisfaction with what they have done, as they sense Allah's pleasure
  with them. There is no better feeling for man than to be reassured of
  his own actions, and to see the results reflected by Allah's pleasure
  with him. The Qur'an gives precedence to this kind of happiness over
  the joys of heaven. Then it describes heaven and the joys it affords to
  its happy dwellers: "in a sublime garden." It is glorious and sublime,
  with lofty positions and elevated gardens.

  The description of height and elevation gives us a special feeling. "Where
  they hear no babble": this expression creates a sense of calmness, peace,
  reassurance, affection, satisfaction and pleasant discourse between
  friends. It also provides a feeling of raising oneself above any vain
  conversation. This is in itself a kind of joy and happiness, which is
  better felt when one remembers the first life and its increasing polemics,
  disputes, contentions, quarrels, sin and uproar. When one remembers all
  this, one relaxes with the feeling of complete calmness, total peace and
  pleasant happiness generated by the Qur'anic expression "where they hear
  no babble". The very words are endowed with pleasant fragrance. They flow
  with a gratifying rhythm. It also implies that, as the believers turn away
  in this life from polemics and vain discourse, their way of life acquires
  a heavenly element.

  As has been said earlier, of all the descriptions of heaven, Allah
  emphasises first this sublime and brilliant element, before He mentions
  the joys which satisfy the senses. These are given in a form
  comprehensible to man, but in heaven they take the form which is suited
  for the elevated standards of the people of heaven. Thus they remain
  unknown except to those who actually experience them.
  "A running fountain shall be there": the description combines a sense of
  the appeasement of thirst, with beauty of movement and flow. Running water
  gives a sense of liveliness and youth. It is pleasant to the eye and the
  mind, and touches the depths of human feeling.

  "And raised couches": the adjective "raised" gives an impression of
  cleanliness and purity. "A nd goblets set forth", so they are ready for
  drinking - there is no need to order or prepare them. "And cushions laid
  in order" are for the dwellers to recline and relax. "And carpets out
  spread" are for the dual purpose of decoration and comfort. All these
  luxuries are similar to luxuries enjoyed in this life, but these are
  mentioned merely to make them comprehensible to us. Their true nature,
  and the nature of their enjoyment, are left for the experience of those
  successful people whom Allah has rewarded. It is useless to make
  comparisons or enquiries concerning the nature of the joys of the here
  after, or the nature of its afflictions. People gain their understanding
  by means that are limited to this world, and the nature of life in it.
  When they are in the next life all veils will be lifted and barriers
  removed. Souls and senses will be free from all restrictions, and the
  connotations of the very words will alter as a result of the change in
  feelings they refer to. These Qur'anic descriptions help us to imagine
  the ultimate of sweemess and joy. This is all that we can do while we
  live on earth, but when Allah honours us with His grace and pleasure,
  as we pray He shall, we will know the reality to which the Qur'an
  When this account of the hereafter comes to its close, the surah refers
  to the present world, which is in itself a manifestation of the power
  and perfect planning of Allah, the Almighty: "Let them reflect how the
  camel was created, how heaven was lifted up, how the mountains were
  hoisted, and how the earth was outstretched" These four short verses
  join together the boundaries of the world of the Arabs - the first people
  to be addressed by the Qur'an. They also group together the prominent ends
  of creation in the universe as they speak of the sky, earth, mountains and
  camels. The last of these stands for all animals, although the camel has
  its own distinctive features and a special value for the Arabs. All these
  aspects of creation - the sky, earth, mountains and animals - are always
  in front of man wherever he is. Whatever man's level of civilisation and
  scientific advancement, they remain within his world and within his sphere
  of consciousness. When he considers their roles, they suggest to him
  something of what lies beyond. In each of them there is a miracle of
  creation. The distinctive, incomparable work of the Creator is clear in
  them all, and this alone is sufficient to indicate the true faith. Hence
  the Qur'an directs to them the attention of every human being.

  "Let them reflect how the camel was created. " The camel was the principal
  animal for the Arab. It was his means of transport and it carried his
  belongings. It gave him food and drink. From its hair and skin he made
  his clothes and dwellings. Besides, the camel is unique among all animals.
  Despite its strength, size and firm build, it is tame: a boy can manage
  it. It gives man a great service and, at the same time, it is inexpensive
  to keep and its food is easy to find. Moreover, it is the only animal to
  endure hunger, thirst, hard work and poor conditions. Its shape has also
  a special characteristic which is in perfect harmony with the portrait
  drawn here, and this will be discussed later on.

  So, the Qur'an asks of its first audience to ponder on how the camel is
  made. This does not require them to undertake any difflcult task or to
  discover any obscure field of science. "Let them reflect how the camel
  was created." Camels were a part of their world, and they only needed
  to look and consider how they were made most suitable for their role;
  how their shape and build fit perfectly with their environment and
  function. Man did not create camels, nor did camels create themselves.
  So, they must have been made by the Unique Maker whose work reflects His
  supreme ability and perfect planning, and proves His existence.

  "How heaven was lifted up." The Qur'an repeatedly directs man's
  reflective faculties to think of the skies. The desert people should be
  the first to undertake this, because in the desert the sky has a much
  richer impact and is more inspiring - as if it has a unique existence.
  The sky - its days brilliant and beaming, its late afternoons captivating
  and fascinating, its sunsets charming and inspiring, its infinite nights,
  sparkling stars and friendly whispers, its sunrises live and animating,
  all this is certainly worth a good deal of reflection and contemplation.
  They should consider how it was lifted up. Who raised it so high without
  pillars to support it? Who scattered those innumerable stars? Who endowed
  it with its beauty and inspiration? They certainly did not lift it up, and
  it could not have been lifted by itself. A power is responsible for its
  creation and erection, and intelligent thought is enough to indicate Him.

  "How the mountains were hoisted." For the Arab in particular, a mountain
  is a refuge and a friend. In general, it always looks majestic and awe
  some. Next to a mountain, a man appears small and humble. It is natural
  for a man on a mountain to think of Allah, and feel himself nearer to
  Him. He feels a distinct detachment from the petty concerns of his
  worldly life. It was neither a vain whim nor a coincidence that Muhammad
  (peace be on him) should go to the cave in Mount Hira'a for periods of
  worship and contemplation (before he was given the message). It is also
  not surprising that those who want to spend a period in self-purification
  should seek to do so in a mountain. The reference here to the mountains
  speaks of them being "hoisted", because this fits in perfectly with the
  image portrayed, which will be dealt with later on.

  "How the earth was outstretched " The earth is obviously outstretched and
  made suitable for human life and its full and varied range of activities.
  Man could not have outstretched it, as it was completed long before his
  existence. So should not man reflect on and consider who outstretched the
  earth and made life feasible on it?
  Intelligent reflection on all these aspects will always inspire the minds
  and excite the souls into recognition of Allah, the Creator.

  Perhaps we should pause a little to consider the perfection with which
  this image of the universe is portrayed. The Qur'an addresses man's
  religious conscience in a language of artistic beauty, and both coalesce
  in the believer's perception to bring the whole image in full relief. The
  scene portrayed includes the elevated heaven and the outstretched earth.
  Across such a boundless horizon stand the mountains. They are not
  described as firmly-rooted, but "hoisted". The camels also stand with
  their upright humps. It is a majestic scene, vast and in6nite, with merely
  two horizontal lines and two vertical ones. This manipulation of graphic
  description for the expression of ideas is a distinct characteristic of
  the Qur'anic style.
  Having dealt first with the Hereafter, and pointed out some apparent
  aspects of the universe, the surah now addresses the Prophet, (peace be
  upon him), laying down the nature of his mission and limits of his role.
  It then concludes with a final reminder to mankind:
    Therefore give warning; your mission is only to warn them. You are not
    their overseer. But he who turns his back and disbelieves, Allah shall
    inflict on him the greatest chastisement. To Us rhey shall surely
    return, when We shall bring them to account.
  Remind them then of the hereafter and the universe, and all there is in
  each of them." You are not the it overseer." You have no control over
  their heans and you cannot compel them to adopt the faith. Men's heans
  are in the hands of Allah, the Merciful. Jihad (struggle in the cause of
  Allah), which was later made a duty of the Prophet and all Muslims, did
  not aim at converting people to Islam by force. Its only aim was to remove
  all hindrances in the way of the Islamic call, so that it could be
  conveyed freely, and so that people were not prevented from listening
  to it or persecuted for doing so. That is the role the Prophet can fulfil:
  to remove the obstacles which prevent him conveying his message.

  The notion fhat the Prophd's mission is confined to reminding and
  conveying the message is often repeated and stressed in the Qur'an .
  There are several reasons for this emphasis, the first of which is to
  relieve the Prophet of the heavy burden of directing the course of the
  Islamic call once he has conveyed it. He must leave it to Allah to decide
  its course. The urgency of the human yearning to win victory for the
  Truth and to get people to benefit trom its absolute goodness is so keen
  that such repetition is required to make the advocates of this call
  distinguish their own desires and ambitions from their mission. When
  this distinction is clear, they proceed with the fulfilment of their
  duty regardless of the response and consequences. Thus the advocates of
  the call do not worry themselves over who has accepted the faith and who
  has rejected it. They are not charged with this burden, which becomes
  particularly heavy at times of adversity, when favourable response
  becomes a rarity and enemies abound. But conveyance of the Message,
  which is the limit of the Prophet's task, is not the end of the matter.
  The disbdievers are not to be left alone. They cannot deny Allah and be
  safe. "But he who turns his back and disbelieves, Allah shall inflict
  on him the greatest chastisement. "They will no doubt return to Allah,
  and He will inevitably administer their retribution. The surah ends on
  a decisive and final note: "To Us they shall surely return, when We
  shall bring them to account." The definition of the Prophet's role and
  the role of every subsequent advocate of Islam is thus completed. They
  have only to remind and the reckoning will be made by Allah.

  It must be stressed, however, that the process of reminding includes the
  removal of hindrances so that people may be free to listen to the call.
  This is the aim of Jihad as it is understood from the Qur'an and the
  history of the Prophet. It is a process which neither admits negligence
  nor permits aggression.





Site Meter