Interpretation of Sura 'Abasa - Verses 33-42
33. And when the deafening cry comes,
34. The Day on which a man shall flee from his brother,
35. And his mother and his father,
36. And from his wife and his children,
37. Each one of them, That Day, will have concern enough to occupy him.
38. Some faces That Day will be bright,
39. Laughing, rejoicing .
40. And some faces That Day will be dust-stained,
41. Blackness will cover them:
42. Those are they who are disbelievers, the wicked.
The Resurrection Cry!
After describing a notable number of divine gifts and worldly blessings, the theme changes to talk about the resurrection and some of its happenings as well as the end of the believers and unbelievers. The purpose in this is to say that, firstly, these gifts, whatever they are, will have an end sometime; and secondly, they are some signs to prove the existence of Allah's authority which is over everything and, of course, over the Resurrection.
And when the deafening cry comes,
The term /sakhah/ is based on /sakh/ which originally means 'a very loud noise', so loud that it almost deafens the ears, or actually deafens them. It points, here, to the second sound of the blast of the trumpet, the very great cry which brings the dead to life again and makes them go forth to the gathering place for the final Judgment.
Verily, the cry is so loud and shocking that everyone forgets all but one's end resulting from one's own actions.
The Day on which a man shall flee from his brother.
The same brother who was loved sincerely, was helped in everything favorably, now he flees from that brother, abruptly.
And his mother and his father,
And from his wife and his children.
Thus, individuals not only leave the nearest and the dearest members of their family such as their brother, father, mother, wife, and children, but also flee from them. This statement shows that the horror and the fear of the Day is so much so that it makes individuals cease all their wishes and affections. In the probationary life, mother was loved by her child very much; father was highly respected by his son; wife was eagerly beloved by her husband; children were the best for their father,
as the apples of his eyes; but now, in the eternal life, one flees from all of them!
The reason why he flees from them is stated in the next verse.
Each one of them, That Day, will have concern enough to occupy him.
The term /yaqnih/ 'makes him self-sufficient' shows that on That Day, Man is so busy with his affairs that he does not pay attention to anyone; and the events are so terrible and overwhelming as to occupy him and his mind, totally.
It has been narrated that some of the households of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) asked him if one would remember one's close friend on That Day, and he answered: There are three halting-places where no one remembers anyone. The first place is where the acts are weighed to see whether they are heavy (worthy) or light (unworthy) ; then, it is on the path where he wonders whether he can pass it (successfully) or not;
and then it is the time when he is given his Record to see whether it is given to his right hand or to his ! hand. In these three halting-places no one cares for any one else: his supporter, his comrade, his companion, his very true friend, his child, his parents, and this is the same thing that Allah says: 'Each one of them, That Day, will have concern enough to occupy him' . 11
Then the situation of the believers and unbelievers is described when it says:
Some faces That Day will be bright.
And some faces That Day will be dust-stained,
Blackness will cover them.
The term /musfirah/ is based on /asfar/ which means 'to appear, or to glitter' like the light of the early morning at the end of the darkness of night; the term /qabarah/ is based on /qabar/ which means 'dust'; the term /qatarah/ originally is based on /qatar/ which means 'smoke'; the term /kafarah/and the term /fajarah/ are the plural forms of /kafir/ 'a disbeliever from the point of view of belief and /fajir/ 'a sinner from the point of view of action'.
The look on the face shows the inner self (mood) , both physically and spiritually, good or bad.
It is understood from the verse that on That Day the faces show the righteousness or wickedness of persons during their lives in this world.
The dust on the faces of the sinners will be in contrast to the beaming light on the faces of the righteous; and the blackness (smoke) of the faces of sinners, who are sad and regretful, in contrast to the 'laughing, rejoicing' faces of the righteous.
On the whole, on That Day, the faces show the facts and it is enough to look at the faces to know who is a sinner and who is righteous; as it is said in Sura Rahman, No. 55, verse 41: (For) the sinners will be known by their faces.
The ideas set forth in the short and meaningful verses, of this Sura, are a good collection for individuals to use as a guidance to self-perfection.
1. On the one hand, it leads Man to refer to the origin of his creation to understand how he was created from a lowly sperm-drop in order that he should not be proud, because one of the greatest hindrances on the path of self-perfection is pride.
2. On the other hand, it introduces the divine leadership to Man as the best provision of his way including both the Prophet's guidance, originating from revelation, and the guidance led by rational thinking and the observation in the regularity of the created world.
3. Then, it orders Man to look to his food to see how it is created and prepared for him by the Beneficent and the Merciful Creator, and then, to obey Him in humility. Man should be careful to obtain his food, lawfully, because pure and lawful food is an important basis for self-perfection.
4. When he must be careful about his bodily food, then, he should certainly be careful about his soul's sustenance to see that it is not from a corrupted source; that which threatens his spiritual life.
It is surprising that some people are seriously careful about their bodily food, but they do not take care about their soul's sustenance; they read any book and they learn the tutorship of any misleading education and observe no limits or conditions for the sustenance of their soul.
There is a narration from Amir-al-Mo'mineen Ali (p.b.u.h.) that says: Why, I see that people light a lamp at night to watch what kind of food they eat, but they do not mind what is the sustenance of their soul. They do not enlighten their mind by (the) rational knowledge, if they do they will be safe from the bad results of ignorance and sinfulness in their beliefs and deeds. 12
His son Imam Hassan- Mujtaba (p.b.u.h.) also said something along these lines: I wonder at some people who think about their bodily food, but do not care for their soul's sustenance. They avoid eating harmful food, but fill their hearts with fatal materiais. 13
5. One should remember that the Deafening Cry will raise up all from their graves, and everyone will be faced with one's Record. Then, the circumstances, there, will be so awful that one will forget all of one's dearest beloved. One should think about one's acts whether they be so good that one will deserve to have a 'laughing, rejoicing' and bright face That Day, or whether one will have an ugly, black and frowning face, then, and thus, will cause oneself to prepare for that Day.
O Lord! Make each of us successful in self-perfection.
O Lord! Do not deprive us from a good sustenance for our spirits.
O Lord! Make us conscious of our duties to fulfill them before the occurrence of the deafening Cry!
The End of Sura 'Abasa (He Frowned)
(11) Borhan, Commentary, vol.4, p.439.
(12) Safinat-ul-Bihar, vol.2, p.84.
Adapted from the book: "The Light of The Holy Qur'an; Interpretation of Sura Nazi'at and Abasa and Takwir" by: "Sayyid Kamal Faghih Imani and A Group of Muslim Scholars"
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