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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

89. Daybreak (1 – 30)

A Meccan sura in which God emphasizes (by oath) that the tyrants of the Prophet's time will be like those He dealt with in the past. The sura compares the destiny of the ungrateful with that of the souls at peace.

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

1By the Daybreak, 2by the Ten Nights,a This refers to the first ten nights of the month of Dhu ‘l-Hij jah, sacred before and after the Prophet's time, which culminate in the Hajj pilgrimage. 3by the even and the odd, b This has been interpreted in many ways: as a reference to numbers (as translated here); or e.g. as the multiple (God's creation) and the One (God Himself). 4by the passing nightc The complement of this oath is left unmentioned, to be understood from what follows. The commentators use this to complete the oath with ‘they will be punished’ based on the context of what follows. The omission reinforces the oath, as one has to think more carefully in order to grasp it, a device known in Arabic rhetoric as hadhf al-jawab (cf. 38: 1; 50: 1).5is this oath strong enough for a rational person?

6Have you [Prophet] considered how your Lord dealt with [the people] of ‘Ad d See 26: 123 ff. 7of Iram, [the city] of lofty pillars, 8whose like has never been made in any land, 9and the Thamud,e See 26: 141 ff. who hewed into the rocks in the valley, 10and the mighty and powerfulf Dhu'l-awtad, ‘of the stakes’, is explained as a Bedouin expression conveying strength and power. Another interpretation is that Pharaoh used stakes as implements of torture. Pharaoh? 11All of them committed excesses in their lands, 12and spread corruption there: 13your Lord let a scourge of punishment loose on them. 14Your Lord is always watchful.

15[The nature of] mang Insan ‘man’ occurs sixty-five times in the Qurʾan. It applies to both men and women, as of course does the generic ‘man’ in English. is that, when his Lord tries him through honour and blessings, he says, ‘My Lord has honoured me,’ 16but when He tries him through the restriction of his provision, he says, ‘My Lord has humiliated me.’ 17No indeed! You [people] do not honour orphans, 18you do not urge one another to feed the poor,

19you consume inheritancea This could refer to the inheritance of orphans (see 4: 2 and 4: 10) or inheritance generally. greedily, 20and you love wealth with a passion. 21No indeed! When the earth is pounded to dust, pounded and pounded, 22when your Lord comes with the angels, rank upon rank, 23when Hell is that Day brought near—on that Day man will take heed, but what good will that be to him then? 24He will say, ‘Would that I had provided for this life to come!’ 25On that Day, no one will punish as He punishes, 26and no one will bind as He binds. 27‘[But] you, soul at peace:b At peace through remembering God in this life and the next (cf. 13: 28), unlike the disbeliever who only takes heed on the Day of Judgement, when it will not benefit him. There is iltifat here: the sinners are mentioned in the third person while the honoured are addressed directly by their Lord. 28return to your Lord well pleased and well pleasing; 29go in among My servants; 30and into My Garden.’

Notes:

a This refers to the first ten nights of the month of Dhu ‘l-Hij jah, sacred before and after the Prophet's time, which culminate in the Hajj pilgrimage.

b This has been interpreted in many ways: as a reference to numbers (as translated here); or e.g. as the multiple (God's creation) and the One (God Himself).

c The complement of this oath is left unmentioned, to be understood from what follows. The commentators use this to complete the oath with ‘they will be punished’ based on the context of what follows. The omission reinforces the oath, as one has to think more carefully in order to grasp it, a device known in Arabic rhetoric as hadhf al-jawab (cf. 38: 1; 50: 1).

d See 26: 123 ff.

e See 26: 141 ff.

f Dhu'l-awtad, ‘of the stakes’, is explained as a Bedouin expression conveying strength and power. Another interpretation is that Pharaoh used stakes as implements of torture.

g Insan ‘man’ occurs sixty-five times in the Qurʾan. It applies to both men and women, as of course does the generic ‘man’ in English.

a This could refer to the inheritance of orphans (see 4: 2 and 4: 10) or inheritance generally.

b At peace through remembering God in this life and the next (cf. 13: 28), unlike the disbeliever who only takes heed on the Day of Judgement, when it will not benefit him. There is iltifat here: the sinners are mentioned in the third person while the honoured are addressed directly by their Lord.

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