Interpretation of Sura Nazi'at - Verses 1-5
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
1. By those (angels) who tear out (the souls of the wicked) with violence;
2. By those (angels) who gently draw out (the souls of the Blessed) ;
3. And by those who glide along (on errands of mercy) ,,
4. Then press forward as in a race,
5. And those who manage the affair,
By The Angels Who Try Hard
There are five important matters sworn to in the above verses and whose aim is to settle the rightfulness and certainty of the Resurrection.
"By those (angels) who tear out (the souls of the wicked) with violence,"
"By those (angels) who gently draw out (the souls of the blessed) ";
And by those(who glide along (on errands of mercy) ",
Then press forward as in a race,
And these who manage the affair,
First, some particular terms used in these verses should be made clear before we proceed with the commentary of the verses.
The word /nazi'at/ is based on 'naza'a' which means 'to pluck out', or 'to draw out somewhat sharply, like drawing a bow to shoot arrows'. This word is sometimes used for spiritual matters, such as the detachment of enmity or love from the heart.
The term /qaraqa/, according to many philologists, means 'to sink, the act of drowning' and sometimes it has been used in the sense of 'being entirely busy in an event or a disaster'.
Or, the term /qarq/, according to Ibn-Manzur in Lisan-al-Arab, is a noun replacing the infinitive with the meaning of /iqraq/ 'to exaggerate' which originally means 'to draw a bow to the extreme possible point', hence, to exagerate in anything.
This clearly shows that, in the above verse, the word does not mean 'to sink, or to drown', but it means 'to do something to the exreme end'. 2
The term /nashitat/ is derived from /nasht/ which originally means 'to untie the knots which are easily unfastened'. 'A shallow well', from which the bucket can be drawn easily at one pull, is called /inshat/. 'A camel which is instigated by a subtle hint and moves very fast' is called /nashitah/ Therefore, this word is generally used in any case where a movement is fluently done.
The term /sabihat/ I is based on /sabh/ which means 'a quick movement in water or air'. Hence, it is applied to swimming, or a swimming motion, or a swift gallop, or to perform a daily affair, quickly. The word /tasbih/ 'to praise Allah' is from the same root, as if the one who praises Allah goes quickly forward in worship of the Lord.
The term /sabiqat/ is derived from /sabqah/ which means 'to precede' and since the action is usually impossible without full speed, this term is sometimes used in the sense of 'speed', too.
The term /mudabbirat/ is based on /tadbir/ which means 'to mediate upon, or consider the end of an action', and since foresight causes one to arrange his affairs in a better manner, this word is used here in that sense.
Now, with due attention to what was explained about the words concerning the verses, we are going to proceed with the commentary.
To whom or to what do these five oaths refer? The oaths, at first sight, seem rather ambiguous, while at the same time this ambiguity stimulates us to mediate more deeply and thus causes our progressive thinking.
In this regard, commentators have given many different ideas and commentaries which mainly revolve around three points:
1. The oaths are aimed at 'angels' who are ordered to tear out the souls of the wicked and the pagan, violently; those souls who have never assumed to submit to the Truth and to the angels who are appointed to draw out the souls of the blessed, gently and smoothly.
Then, it refers to the angels who move fast and fluently to carry out the Divine Command. And in so doing, they race each other to fulfill their errands.
Finally, they arrange the affairs according to Allah's plan.
2. The oaths refer to the 'stars' which continually set on one horizon and rise above another.
A group of them moves slowly, but another goes swiftly, from one place to another, with speed. They are floating above us in immense space, taking the lead one after another.
And finally, these stars, having their own influence and effects (like the effect of su!1ight and moonlight on the Earth) , arrange the affairs according to Allah's plan.
3. The oaths are aimed at the fighters of 'Holy War' (Jihad) , or at their horses, and who leave their own houses and cities with expressive grief, but, then they smoothly and happily leave for the battlefield taking the lead one after another directing and running the affairs of war.
On occasion, some commentators have tried to combine these three ideas by choosing one part from one commentary and another part from another one, but the framework is the same. 3
There is no contrast, of course, among these commentaries and it is possible that the above verses refer to all of them. But, on the whole, the first commentary, regarding its suitability to the main theme, Resurrection, and with the traditions by the sinless Imams, seems to be the most fitting.
(2) Kisan-al-Arab; Majma'-al-Bayan, The Commentary; Kashshaf, The Commentary; and Majma'-AL-Bahrayn.
(3) A fourth point of probability cited refer' to the natural movements of creatures in the world.
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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