This page contains all verses of surah An-Naba in addition to Interpretation of all verses by Maarif-ul-Quran (Mufti Muhammad Shafi). In the first part you can read surah النبإ ordered in pages exactly as it is present in the Quran. To read an interpretation of a verse click on its number.
عَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ (About what are they asking each other?...78:1). The word ` amma is made up of two particles: [ 1] The preposition' عن an (about); and [ 2] the interrogative particle ما 'ma' (what?) (the last letter, that is, 'ma' has been omitted according to the grammatical composition. The sense is: About what are they asking each other?' Allah Himself replies to the question when He says:
عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ مُخْتَلِفُونَ (About the Great Event in which they dispute!...78:2, 3). The word naba' means 'news' but not every news is naba'. It means a 'momentous news of a great event'. This refers to the news of the Day of Judgment. The verse purports to convey that the inhabitants of Makkah ask about the Day of Judgment in which they dispute [ while some of them believed in Resurrection, others did not.]
Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ reports that when the revelation of Qur'an started, the pagan Arabs used to form circles and discuss and criticise it, especially about the tremendous import of Resurrection and Judgment referred to in the Qur'an. The pagans thought this was impossible, and they used to have protracted discussion. The disbelievers persuade themselves to believe that the predicted event will never take place, though there were others who believed in the event. The Surah opens by shunning the enquirers and the enquiry, it wonders that anyone should raise any doubts about Resurrection and Judgment. Some of the commentators express the opinion that their enquiry was not a genuine one where they were keen to learn about the truth. So they ask half-mockingly and half in doubt, when that event, so loudly pronounced, will happen. Qur'an has responded by asserting one statement twice for emphasis, thus:
كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ ثُمَّ كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ (Truly, they will soon know. Again, truly, they will soon know....78:5) The particle kalla is negative, and means 'never, by no means'. It means here that this matter cannot be understood by question and answer or by disputation and debate. Its reality will be understood by them when they will face it. It is such a reality that has no room for questions, disputation or denial. The Qur'an says that soon they will come to know about it [ and this statement is repeated twice for emphasis ]. In other words, when they die, they will discover the realities of the next world. They will see the horrors of the Hereafter with their eyes.
Then the Holy Qur'an has pointed to different demonstrations of His power to prove that it is not impossible for Allah to destroy this entire world and re-create it once again. Reference is made to the creation of earth, mountains, human beings, males and females and the creation of suitable conditions for human life, health and activities. One of the things mentioned in this connection is:
وَجَعَلْنَا نَوْمَكُمْ سُبَاتًا (and made your sleep a source of rest,...78:9). The word subat is derived from sabt which means to cut off. Sleep is something that cuts off the worries and tensions one may have, and thus gives him such a rest that cannot be attained from anything else. Therefore, some scholars translate the word subat as 'rest'.
Sleep Is a Great Gift
After mentioning in verse [ 8] that Allah has created mankind in pairs, Allah Ta’ ala states in verse [ 9] that among the means of their comfort, He created sleep, which is a great divine gift. Sleep is a great source of relaxation for the entire creation - for rich as well as for poor, for learned people, as well as for the illiterate ones, for kings as well as for labourers. This gift is made available equally and simultaneously for all. Rather, experience shows that this gift is most readily available to the poor and labouring class, as compared to the affluent and the elite class. The latter class has all the means of comfort, they have comfortable homes, they have moderately warm and cold places, they have comfortable mattresses and pillows that are rarely available to the poor. But the gift of sleep is not dependent upon the mattresses, pillows, cottages and bungalows. It is purely a divine gift that is given directly by Allah. Often the poor, with no means of comfort and without bed or bedding, enjoy the best sleep in an open space. Sometimes, the affluent and the men of means suffer from insomnia and can only get sleep when they take sleeping pills. Often the pills do not work either. Not only that this great gift is given to all creatures - humans as well as animals - and it is given free of charge, without working for it. Allah has made it compulsory for everyone in a way that even if he wishes to keep awake because of load of work, sleep is imposed on him by Allah's mercy, so that his tiredness is removed and he is refreshed to work further. This arrangement is a wonderful means of providing rest and peace for man.
وَجَعَلْنَا اللَّيْلَ لِبَاسًا (and made the night a covering... 78:10) This points to the fact that man naturally feels sleepy when light decreases and darkness prevails, when there is tranquility all around and there is absence of noises. The verse under comment additionally signifies that Allah did not only give man sleep, but created in the entire world conditions that are suitable for sleep. That is to say: [ 1] darkness of night; [ 2] the state of sleep is imposed on all humans and animals simultaneously, so that they sleep at the same time. In this way, there will be peace and tranquility throughout the world. Like other works, if there are different times for different people to sleep, no one will have peace and tranquility.
Thereafter the verse reads:
وَجَعَلْنَا النَّهَارَ مَعَاشًا (and made the day a source of livelihood....78:11). Man requires, together with sleep, other essentials of life, such as livelihood. Otherwise, the sleep will turn into death. If the world would have had only nights and no days, and man would have continued to sleep all the time, how would he have obtained his livelihood and other essentials, whereas day is the time when he could work hard and make activities in the daylight in order to earn a living. Thus the verses under comment purport to say that Allah has, in order to complete the comforts of life, made the night a cloak and the day for earning a living. وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا .
Now attention is drawn to the comforts we get from the sky. The most useful thing in the sky is the light of the sun. It is mentioned in the following verse: وَجَعَلْنَا سِرَاجًا وَهَّاجًا . (and created a luminous lamp [ the sun ]....78:13). Then, among the useful things below the sky, the most beneficial and the most essential thing is the raining clouds which are mentioned thus:
وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ الْمُعْصِرَاتِ مَاءً ثَجَّاجًا (And We have sent down from the rain-laden clouds abundant water,...78:14). The word mu'sirat is the plural of mu` sirah 'rain-laden cloud'. This indicates that rain comes down from the cloud. There are verses, however, that indicate that rain comes down from the sky. Those verses too probably refer to 'upper atmosphere'. There are many verses in the Qur'an where the word sama' is used in that sense. Having mentioned these Divine blessings, the Surah reverts to its original theme of Resurrection and Judgment:
إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ كَانَ مِيقَاتًا (Surely the Day of Decision is an appointed time...78:17). 'The Day of Decision' refers to the Day of Resurrection. It is a fixed appointment. Other verses indicate that the trumpet will be blown twice. When it is blown the first time, the entire world will come to an end. When it is blown the second time, people of the entire world, the earlier generations as well as the latter generations, will be resurrected and come in multitudes and droves. Sayyidna Abu Dharr Ghifari رضی اللہ تعالیٰ عنہ reports that the Holy Prophet ﷺ said: "On the Day of Resurrection, people will come in three different groups: [ 1] a group will come in the Plain of Gathering whose stomach will be full, wearing clothes and riding mounts; another group will come to the Plain of Gathering bare feet; and a third group will be brought on the Plain of Gathering being dragged on their faces." [ Mazhari cites the following authorities: Nasa'i, Hakim and Baihaqi ]
Some narratives report ten types of group. Some scholars say that the groups on the Plain of Gathering will be divided according to their deeds and character. The narratives are not conflicting. All of them may be true.
وَسُيِّرَتِ الْجِبَالُ فَكَانَتْ سَرَابًا (and the mountains will be set in motion, so they will be as mirage....78:20). The word suyyirat 'set in motion' signifies that mountains, which are taken as an example of firmness and strength, will be shifted from their positions, and will become like little particles of dust flying about in the atmosphere. The word sarab literally means 'to disappear' and it also refers to 'mirage' or an optical illusion, as of a sheet of water, that sometimes appears in a desert, because it seems to be a sheet of water from a distance, but when a person comes near it, it disappears. [ Sihah and Raghib ].
إِنَّ جَهَنَّمَ كَانَتْ مِرْصَادًا (Surely Jahannam [ the Hell ] is set in ambush. 78:21). The word mirsad means 'an ambush' or 'lying in wait to attack unawares' or 'a secret position for surprise attack'. Here Hell refers to the bridge of Hell. The angels of reward and punishment will lie in wait. The angels of punishment will make a surprise attack on the inmates of Hell, and the angels of reward will lie in wait to accompany the inmates of Paradise and take them to their abode. [ Mazhari ]
Sayyidna Hasan Basri (رح) said that there will be an outpost of guardian angels on the bridge of Hell. If anyone has a permit to enter Paradise, he will be permitted to enter; but if anyone does not have the permit to enter Paradise, he will be prevented from entering it. [ Qurtubi ]
لِّلطَّاغِينَ مَآبًا ([ It is ] an abode for the rebellious people... 78:22). The combined sense of verses 21 and 22 is that the bridge of Hell is set in ambush for all, the good and the bad. They will have to go over it. But Hell is the abode of the rebellious people. The word taghin is the plural of taghi, being derived from tughyan, meaning 'rebellion'. Thus the word taghi refers to a 'person who exceeds the limit in disobeying the authority [ of Allah ] '. This is possible only when he gives up his faith. Hence, the word thin in this context would refer to the disbelievers. It may also refer to the stray groups of Muslims who have deviated from the limits of Qur'an and Sunnah, though they may not have adopted kufr expressly, such as Rawafid, Khawarij, Mu'tazilah and others. [ as in Mazhari ].
لَّابِثِينَ فِيهَا أَحْقَابًا (who will be abiding in it for ages....78:23). The word labithin is the plural of labith which means 'one who abides'. The word ahqab is the plural of hiqbah and means 'ages or a long time'. Scholars differ on the exact length or specific amount of time meant by this word. Ibn Jarir has recorded that Sayyidna ` Ali ؓ states that hiqbah is eighty years, and the year constitutes twelve months, and every month comprises thirty days, and each day is equivalent to one thousand years, thus one hiqbah totalling about twenty million and eighty-eight hundred thousand years . Sayyidna Abu Hurairah, ` Abdullah Ibn ` Umar, Ibn ` Abbas ؓ and others say that one hiqbah is seventy years instead of eighty years. The rest of the calculation remains the same. [ Ibn Kathir ]. In Musnad of Bazzar, Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn ` Umar ؓ traces the following Hadith to the Holy Prophet ﷺ :
لا یخرج احدکم من النّار حتّٰی یمکث فیہ احقاباً ، والحقب بضع و ثمانون سنۃ، کل سنۃ ثلثمایٔۃ وستّون یوما ممّا یعدّون
"Those who will be put in Hell for punishment of their sins, they will not be able to come out until they tarry therein for a few Ahqib. One hiqbah will be a little over eighty years, and the year has three hundred and sixty days according to your reckoning [ in this life ]."
This Tradition, though does not interpret this verse, it does explain the sense of the word ahqab. Some of the Companions mention that one day is equivalent to a thousand years. If they had heard this from the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، there is conflict in the narratives. In the face of such conflict, it is not possible to settle on one narration. However, there is a common denominator between the two conflicting narratives, that hiqbah means 'an extremely long period of time'. Therefore, Baidawi has interpreted the word as 'many long periods of time successively following the others.
Problem of Eternity of Hell
If it be argued, as some do, that the inmates of Hell, after serving the long ages in Hell, will be released because no matter what the length of hiqbah, it is, nonetheless, finite and limited and will come to an end sometime or other. But looking at other clear verses of the Qur'an, the argument does not hold up. We come across express text like:
خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا
'[ They, the disbelievers ] shall remain therein [ in the Fire ] for ever'.
Therefore, there is the consensus of Ummah that neither Hell will perish, nor will the disbelievers be released at anytime.
Suddi reports from Sayyidna Murrah Ibn ` Abdullah ؓ that if the inmates of Hell are informed that they will abide in Hell for the number of pebbles in the entire world, they will be happy even at this information, because these pebbles though will count into billions or zillions, still they are finite. If so, their punishment will, some time or the other, come to an end. If the same information is given to the inmates of Paradise that they will abide therein to the count of billions of pebbles in the entire world, it will sadden them, because, in that case, no matter how long the space of time they will live in Paradise, they will be expelled after this period. [ Mazhari ]
In any case, the notion that after a few ahqab the disbelievers will be released from Hell is contrary to the explicit texts and common consent of the Ummah, and as such it is unworthy of consideration, because the verse does not mention what will happen after the ahqab. It merely mentions that they will have to abide in Hell for ages [ ahqab ] '. This does not necessarily imply that there will be no Hell after ahqab or its non-believing inmates will be released. Therefore, Sayyidna Hasan ؓ says that no specific period has been defined for the inmates of Hell, so that they will be released after that. It is that which has no end to it. Whenever one hiqbah [ era ] is over, a new hiqbah will start; when the second era come to an end, a third hiqbah will start; when the third hiqbah ends, the fourth hiqbah will start; and it will carry on ad infinitum. Sayyidna Said Ibn Jubair ؓ also interprets the word ahqab as referring to 'the time which has no end to it. Whenever one era ends, a new era follows it until eternity'. [ Ibn Kathir and Mazhari ]. Ibn Kathir describes another possibility which Qurtubi supports and Mazhari adopts. The possibility is that the word taghin 'rebellious people' probably does not refer to the disbelievers, but to the people of Tauhid, who, on account of their false beliefs, fall into one of the categories of deviant groups. Traditionalists refer to them as ahl-ul-ahwa' 'heretics whose beliefs are not in keeping with the common consent of the People of Ahl-us-sunnah wal-jama'ah. In this case, the verse purports to say that they are the people of Tauhid, but bordered on the boundary of disbelief on account of false beliefs. They, however, did not cross into the boundary of explicit disbelief. They will therefore abide in Hell for the period of ahqab, and then discharged therefrom by virtue of the creed of tuhid.
Mazhari, in support of this possibility, has cited the Prophetic Hadith which was reported earlier on the authority of Sayyidna ` Abdullah Ibn ` Umar ؓ with reference to Musnad of Bazzar, in which the Holy Prophet ﷺ said that after the period of ahqab has passed, these people will be taken out of Hell. Abu Hayyan, however, disputes this on the grounds of the verses that follow the present verse:
إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا لَا يَرْجُونَ حِسَابًا وَكَذَّبُوا بِآيَاتِنَا كِذَّابًا
(They did not expect [ to face ] accounting [ of their deeds ], and they rejected Our signs totally....78:27-28)
These verses contradict the possibility that taghin 'rebellious people' could be referring to people of Tauhid and deviant groups, because in the concluding verses it is expressly mentioned that they explicitly reject reckoning and utterly deny the Prophets (علیہم السلام) . Likewise Abu Hayyan rejects out of hand Muqatil's opinion that this verse is abrogated.
A group of commentators find a third interpretation of this verse. A statement after this verse, namely, لَّا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا بَرْدًا وَلَا شَرَابًا إِلَّا حَمِيمًا وَغَسَّاقًا will taste nothing cool in it, nor a drink, except boiling water and pus...78:25) - is circumstantial clause to ahqab, in which case the verse purports to say that for the countless aeons of ahqab that they will be in Hell they will not be tasting any coolness of air nor any food or drink excepting for boiling water and [ scalding ] pus. When the ahqab is over, the condition may change, and other kinds of punishment may be imposed. The word hamim means 'intensely boiling water if brought near the face, it would burn its flesh, and when put into the stomach it would cut into pieces the internal organs'. The word ghassaq means 'blood and pus, and washings of wounds that will ooze from the inmates of Hell'.
جَزَاءً وِفَاقًا (this being a recompense in full accord [ with their deeds ]..78:26). The punishment given to them in Hell will be based on justice and equity - a fitting recompense - on account of their false beliefs and evil deeds. They will not be wronged in the least.
فَذُوقُوا فَلَن نَّزِيدَكُمْ إِلَّا عَذَابًا ("So now taste! We will never add to you anything except torment."....78:30). In other words, in the world they continued to add disbelief. If death did not overtake them by coercion, they would have continued to add disbelief, and today their punishment will be increased.
Thus far the punishment of disbelievers was depicted. As opposed to this, the reward and blessings of the righteous believers are depicted below.