In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

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  • In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

  • Surah 101 The Striker - al Qari'ah

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


    The striker! What is the striker? Would that you knew what the striker is! The day when men shall be scaterred moths, and the mountains like carded wool. Then he whose scales are heavy, shall enjoy a life of satisfaction. But he whose scales are light, shall have the abyss for his home. Would that you knew what this is like. It is a raging fire.



    "Al-Qaari'a' or the Striker is the resurrection named in other places in the Qur'an as the Overwhelming One, the Deafening Shout, the Stunning Blast and the Enveloper. The term al-Qaari'a also connotes hitting and knocking hard. It hits the hearts with its engulfing horrors.

    The surah as a whole deals with the Striker, its essence, what takes place in it and what it leads to in the end. Thus the surah portrays one of the scenes of the resurrection.

    The scene portrayed here is one of horror directly affecting man and mountains. In this scene men look dwarfish in spite of their great number. For they are "like scattered moths"; they fly here and there having no power or weight, experiencing the dilemma and perplexity of moths which rush to destruction, having no aim or purpose.

    Besides, mountains which used to be firm and solidly based seem to be like carded wool carried away by winds, and even by a light breeze. Thus, it is in harmony with this image that the Day of Resurrection is described as the one that strikes or knocks out. The connotations of the expressions used and the rhythm are in consonance with the effects of the Striker on both men and mountains. The surah spreads an air of awe and expectation of the outcome of the reckoning.

    "The Striker! What is the Striker! Would that you knew what the Striker is!" This surah starts with the single word "Al-Qaari'a" which stands for "the Striker". It is thrown alone like a shot without any further information or any predicate or adjective. As such it creates through its sound and connotations a feeling of resounding awe. The word is immediately followed by a question suggesting something alarming: "What is the Striker?" It is that dreadful and formidable thing which arouses curiosity and questioning. Then comes the answer in the form of a cryptic exclamation, giving no clear indication: "Would that you knew what the Striker is!!" It is too great to be comprehended or imagined. Then follows the answer which states what takes place in it but refrains from stating its exact nature: "The day when men shall be like scattered moths and the mountains like carded wool"

    This is the first scene of the Striker, a scene that leaves the hearts in panic and makes the limbs tremble with fear. The listener feels that everything he clings to in this world is flying all around him like dust. Then comes the end of all mankind. "Then he whose scales are heavy shall enjoy a life of satisfaction. But he whose scales are light shall have the abyss for his home. Would that you knew what this is like! It is a raging fire". It is useful for us to consider the "scales" and their being heavy or light. This means that there are standards which Allah credits with being valuable and others that are valueless. This is the general meaning of the statement which Allah wants to convey. He, however, knows best the exact nature of these "scales". To indulge in a sophisticated, logical and linguistic dispute about the meaning of this term is in itself a departure from the Qur'anic spirit and indicates that the reader is not interested in the Qur'an and in Islam.

    "He whose scales are heavy" according to Allah's measures and His evaluation, "shall enjoy a life of satisfaction". Allah makes this statement general without any detailed information. Thus, the statement imparts to man's feelings the connotations of content and satisfaction or, indeed, pure happiness. "But he whose scales are light", according to the same measures of Allah and His evaluation, "shall have the abyss for his home" The Arabic text uses the term "mother" for what is rendered here as "home". It is to his mother that a child turns for help and protection as he seeks shelter and security at home. But such people with light scales can turn and resort only to the abyss! The expression is a fine one, beautifully ordered. It has also a shade of obscurity preparing the way for subsequent clarification which adds to the depth of the intended effect: " Would that you knew what this is like!" It is again the cryptic exclamation used often in the Qur'an which emphasises that it is beyond comprehension and vision. Then comes the answer in the closing note: "It is a raging fire". So this is the mother of the one whose scales are light. This is his mother to whom he turns for help and protection and for security and comfort. But what does he find with such a mother? - The abyss and the raging fire. It is a sudden shock rendered by the expression to represent the hard reality.


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