In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

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  • In the Shade of the Quran (part 30)

  • Surah 102 Rivalry for Wordly Gain - at Takathur

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


    Rivalry for wordly gain distracts you, untill you visit your graves. Indeed you shall know! Again, you shall certainly come to know. Indeed, were you to have certain knowledge ... You shall certainly see the fire of Hell. Yes, you will it with your eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about your joys and comforts.


    This surah has a rhythm that is majestic and awe-inspiring - as if it were the voice of a warner standing on a high place and projecting his voice which rings out in weighty emphasis. He calls out to people who are drowsy, drunken, confused. They approach a precipice with their eyes closed and their feelings numbed. So the warner increases the volume of his voice to the limit: "Rivalry for worldly gain distracts you until you visit your graves."

    You drunken and confused lot! You who take delight and indulge in rivalry for wealth, children and the pleasures of this life - from which you are sure to depart! You who are absorbed with what you have, unaware of what comes afterwards! You who will leave the object of this rivalry, and what you seek pride in and go to a narrow hole wherein there is no rivalry or pride! Wake up and look around, all of you ! For indeed, "rivalry for worldly gain distracts you until you visit your graves".

    With a deep and grave rhythm the Qur'an then strikes their hearts with the terror awaiting them after coming to the graves: "Indeed, you shall know". Then it repeats the same note with the same words and with the same firm and terrifying rhythm: "Again, you shall certainly come to know". Then it adds to the depth and awe of this assurance, and hints at the grave future that lies beyond, the terrifying essence of which they do not recognise in the flush of intoxication and rivalry for worldly riches: "Indeed, were you to have certain knowledge ..." The conditional sentence is not completed in the text. This is acceptable as a refined form of Arabic. It adds to the feeling of awe generated by the surah. The inference here is that had they known what they should know for certain, they would have not indulged in such rivalry for petty gains. The surah then discloses the fearful fact which has been withheld: "You shall certainly see the fire of Hell ".

    Then it emphasizes this fact and deepens its striking impact on people's hearts: "Yes, you will see it with your very eyes". Finally, it puts the last statement which makes the drunken sober, the lethargic conscious, the confused attentive and the self-indulgent tremble and feel apprehension at his indulgence in comforts and pleasures: "Then on that day you shall be questioned about your joys and comforts". You will be questioned concerning all that: How did you get it? How did you dispense with it? Was it obtained from a lawful source and dispensed with in a lawful way? Or from a forbidden source and in a sinful manner? Was it legal or illegal? Have you praised and thanked Allah for it? Have you given the poor their due? Have you given some of it to others? Or have you monopolised it all for your selves? "You shall be questioned" about your rivalry in gathering and amassing wealth and about what you take pride in. It is a burden which you, in your preoccupation and enjoyment, think little of. But beyond it lie heavy responsibilities.

    This is a self-expressing surah. It leaves its impact on man's feelings by its meaning and rhythm. It leaves the heart occupied burdened with the problem of the Hereafter, inattentive to the trivialities of this worldly life and its petty concerns which please hollow-minded people.

    This surah portrays the life of this world as a fleeting wink in the long span of existence: "Rivalry for worldly gain attracts you until you visit your graves". The wink of this life is over and its small leaf is turned. Thereafter time stretches on and so do the burdens. The style of the surah produce this inference, achieving harmony between the actual reality and the manner of expressing it.

    Whenever a human being reads this awe-inspiring and majestic surah, he feels its rhythm which travels upwards in space at the beginning and travels downwards to the deep, deep level at the end. He feels the burden of this wink of a life on his shoulders as he walks heavily along the road. Then he starts questioning himself about the smallest and even the most trivial of his deeds.


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