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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

79. The Forceful Chargers (1 – 26)

A Meccan sura, the main theme of which is the possibility and inevitability of the Resurrection, its results, and its timing. The story of Moses and Pharaoh acts as encouragement to the Prophet and a warning to the disbelievers.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1By the forceful chargersa There are various interpretations of nazi'at. One is that they are angels coming to take the souls at death, which is a fitting oath, as this is a fearful event that cannot be avoided, just as the hour of doom cannot be avoided. Another is that they are horses going out on a military expedition, making the hearts of the enemy tremble. In my opinion this is the most likely (see Sura 100). The suddenness and feeling of alarm in this scene is a symbolic anticipation of the suddenness and shock that will accompany the end of the world. 2raring to go, 3sweeping ahead at full stretch, 4overtaking swiftly 5to bring the matter to an end, 6on the Day when the blast reverberates 7and the second blast follows, 8hearts will tremble 9and eyes will be downcast. 10Theyb The disbelievers of Mecca. say, ‘What? shall we be brought back to life, 11after we have turned into decayed bones?’ and they say, 12‘Such a return is impossible!’c Or (mockingly) ‘That would be a losing return!’. 13But all it will take is a single blast, 14and they will be back above ground.

15Have you [Prophet] heard the story of Moses? 16His Lord called out to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa: 17 ‘Go to Pharaoh, for he has exceeded all bounds, 18and ask him, “Do you want to purify yourself [of sin]?19Do you want me to guide you to your Lord, so that you may hold Him in awe?”’ 20Moses showed him the great sign, 21but he denied it and refused [the faith].22He turned away and hastily23gathered his people, proclaiming, 24‘I am your supreme lord,’ 25so God condemned him to punishment in the life to come as well as in this life: 26there truly is a lesson in this for anyone who stands in awe of God.

Notes:

a There are various interpretations of nazi'at. One is that they are angels coming to take the souls at death, which is a fitting oath, as this is a fearful event that cannot be avoided, just as the hour of doom cannot be avoided. Another is that they are horses going out on a military expedition, making the hearts of the enemy tremble. In my opinion this is the most likely (see Sura 100). The suddenness and feeling of alarm in this scene is a symbolic anticipation of the suddenness and shock that will accompany the end of the world.

b The disbelievers of Mecca.

c Or (mockingly) ‘That would be a losing return!’.

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