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The Holy Quran translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali

Surah 76 Time - Ad-Dahr, 31 verses (Makka)

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

  1. Has there not been over Man a long period of Time, when he was nothing - (not even) mentioned?
  2. Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight.
  3. We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).
  4. For the Rejecters we have prepared chains, yokes, and a blazing Fire.
  5. As to the Righteous, they shall drink of a Cup (of Wine) mixed with Kafur,-
  6. A Fountain where the Devotees of God do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance.
  7. They perform (their) vows, and they fear a Day whose evil flies far and wide.
  8. And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive,-
  9. (Saying),"We feed you for the sake of God alone: no reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.
  10. "We only fear a Day of distressful Wrath from the side of our Lord."
  11. But God will deliver them from the evil of that Day, and will shed over them a Light of Beauty and (blissful) Joy.
  12. And because they were patient and constant, He will reward them with a Garden and (garments of) silk.
  13. Reclining in the (Garden) on raised thrones, they will see there neither the sun's (excessive heat) nor (the moon's) excessive cold.
  14. And the shades of the (Garden) will come low over them, and the bunches (of fruit), there, will hang low in humility.
  15. And amongst them will be passed round vessels of silver and goblets of crystal,-
  16. Crystal-clear, made of silver: they will determine the measure thereof (according to their wishes).
  17. And they will be given to drink there of a Cup (of Wine) mixed with Zanjabil,-
  18. A fountain there, called Salsabil.
  19. And round about them will (serve) youths of perpetual (freshness): If thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered Pearls.
  20. And when thou lookest, it is there thou wilt see a Bliss and a Realm Magnificent.
  21. Upon them will be green Garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, and they will be adorned with Bracelets of silver; and their Lord will give to them to drink of a Wine Pure and Holy.
  22. "Verily this is a Reward for you, and your Endeavour is accepted and recognised."
  23. It is We Who have sent down the Qur'an to thee by stages.
  24. Therefore be patient with constancy to the Command of thy Lord, and hearken not to the sinner or the ingrate among them.
  25. And celebrate the name or thy Lord morning and evening,
  26. And part of the night, prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through.
  27. As to these, they love the fleeting life, and put away behind them a Day (that will be) hard.
  28. It is We Who created them, and We have made their joints strong; but, when We will, We can substitute the like of them by a complete change.
  29. This is an admonition: Whosoever will, let him take a (straight) Path to his Lord.
  30. But ye will not, except as God wills; for God is full of Knowledge and Wisdom.
  31. He will admit to His Mercy whom He will; But the wrong-doers,- for them has He prepared a grievous Penalty.

Surah 75 The Rising of the Dead
Surah 76 Time
Surah 77 The Emissaries

Sura 76 of the Qur’an, alternately known as “Time” and “Man,” describes clearly a number of aspects of the Muslim worldview, including the place of humanity in the world. In doing so, it describes the concept of obedience to God that is the root of the word Islam, but also presents descriptions of paradise for those who obey and doom for those who do not. The sura also depicts two examples of obedience, caring for the poor and worshipping God, and implies that the former is in fact a form of the latter.

“Man” begins, though, on a different note, describing the humble beginnings of each human as “a drop of thickened fluid.” The first two verses aim to remind the reader that because he began so insignificantly and was turned into a “hearing, knowing” being by God, he must show gratitude to God in return. “We have shown him the way,” states the next verse, referring to the revelations that Allah has sent to humanity, and the next portion of the sura is a part of this divine guide to life.

The ethical center of the sura thus begins with the sixth verse and states that “the slaves of Allah”—Muslims—“feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner.” This is done “for love of Him,” a rare Quranic use of a third person pronoun to describe God. Verse nine clarifies that “Him” refers to God, as the Muslims say to the needy, “We feed you, for the sake of Allah only.” Feeding the needy is thus depicted not as an act of compassion but as an act of servitude to God.

The Muslims’ submission to God, though, is not an irrational one; they do not feed the needy without reason. Instead, they say, they care for others because “we fear from our Lord a day of frowning and of fate,” an eventual punishment for failing to submit. In just a few verses the sura has explained that, in following the example of these righteous people, one should feed the poor. This need not be an act of compassion or uncompelled religiosity, though, and perhaps shouldn’t be; it should instead be an act of servitude to God, who will punish those who shun such acts.

This concept of punishment for disobedience is complimented by the concept of paradise for the obedient, and the sura continues by crediting God with the salvation of those who obey him. There follows a description of the paradise that awaits the righteous, ending in verse 22 with the explicit statement that this paradise “is a reward” for the “endeavor (upon earth)” of the good. An encapsulation of the message of the sura soon follows: “Submit patiently to thy Lord’s command, and obey not of them any guilty one or disbeliever.”

“Thy Lord’s command” has many parts, though, and feeding the poor is only one way to submit to God. One should also, the sura says, think of God constantly and worship Him at night. This worship seems less an act of ethics than one of religion, but the Qur’an does not to make this categorical distinction. Earlier, charity was described as a form of obedience to God, and here worship is among the things one should do. Like charity, worship is depicted as an act done for God in gratitude for creation, and since all such acts, including charity, have the purpose of acknowledging Allah’s supremacy, they all seem to actually be forms of worship.

This theme of worship and submission that pervades the sura is also used in its ending, which echoes the beginning, but is more ominous. “We, even We, created them,” says Allah, “and when We will, We can replace them, bringing others like them in their stead.” God created us but He can also destroy us, so worship, both ethical and religious, is truly essential to our survival. And, “Time” concludes, the cost of failure to submit is great. “He maketh whom He will enter His mercy, and for evildoers hath prepared a painful doom.”

Works Cited

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