Surah Al Dukhan: The Smoke

Introduction

This is the only surah that mentions meteors and interstellar gas twice, in the verse 7: “The Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, if you would only have faith,” and the verse 38: “We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in sport.” These verses have a language about ‘what is between the heavens and the earth,’ a 20th century physics and astronomy concept in a text that is from the seventh century Arabia. We truly appreciate these verses only if we read them with the assumptions or biases of modern day astronomy and that the Quran was revealed by the All Knowing God. People who do not know astronomy or did not have the possibility of knowing it in the previous centuries would not appreciate the profundity of these verses.  For further understanding of these two verses please glance or review the following two articles: Meteors: Establish the truth of the Holy Quran and Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature. When we read these verses with a sympathetic mindset and the assumptions mentioned above we come to the safe conclusion that the Quran is the word of all knowing God and not of Muhammad, may peace be on him.

At this point we want to stress that we begin to see and appreciate or detest the Quran in light of our assumptions or biases. Someone who reads the Quran with the enlightenment that the Quran is about justice and compassion and only allows defensive war, will come to find certain verses as primary and interpret other verses in light of those. See the article: Defensive War in the Holy Quran in 600 Words. On the other hand someone bitten by the bug of Islamophobia or an Islamist who wants to establish a theocracy, by hook or crook, will stress some other verses and will reduce the verses mentioned in the above article in this paragraph to a secondary status.  This phenomenon is not our original discovery but is mentioned by the Quran itself several times, for example: 3:7, 7:45 and 17:82. So, here is a suggested article to start reading the holy Quran on the right foot, with the correct perspective: The Purpose And Context Of The Qur’an.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary:

This is a well-known and often recited surah regarding which the Prophet is reported to have said, ‘Whosoever recites al-Dukhan during the night will greet the morning with seventy thousand angels asking forgiveness for him’ (Aj, Al, Ts, Z)

We suggest that we should take this hadith as a blessing and inspiration and not take the angel count literally.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

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

44:1. The Praise worthy, the Lord of Honor.

 حم

44:2-16. We call to witness this clear Book. We revealed it in a blessed Night, We have ever been warning. In it are all matters of wisdom expounded with discrimination by Our command. We have ever sent Messengers, as a mercy from your Lord. He indeed is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing, the Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, if you would only have faith. There is no god but He. He bestows life and He causes death. He is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. Yet they play about in doubt.

Then watch for the Day when the sky brings forth clouds of smoke that envelops the people. That will be a painful torment. The cry will go up: Lord, remove from us the torment; we do believe. How will they be admonished, seeing that there came to them a Messenger, expounding matters clearly, and they turned away from him declaring: He is tutored, a man possessed! Yet, We shall remove the torment for a while, but you will certainly revert to your misdeeds.

Keep in mind, however, that on the day when We afflict you with the Great Affliction, We will certainly exact retribution.

 وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُبِينِ

 إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنذِرِينَ

 فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ

 أَمْرًا مِّنْ عِندِنَا ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُرْسِلِينَ

 رَحْمَةً مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

 رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ إِن كُنتُم مُّوقِنِينَ

  لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ ۖ رَبُّكُمْ وَرَبُّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ

 بَلْ هُمْ فِي شَكٍّ يَلْعَبُونَ

 فَارْتَقِبْ يَوْمَ تَأْتِي السَّمَاءُ بِدُخَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

 يَغْشَى النَّاسَ ۖ هَـٰذَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ

 رَّبَّنَا اكْشِفْ عَنَّا الْعَذَابَ إِنَّا مُؤْمِنُونَ

  أَنَّىٰ لَهُمُ الذِّكْرَىٰ وَقَدْ جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مُّبِينٌ

 ثُمَّ تَوَلَّوْا عَنْهُ وَقَالُوا مُعَلَّمٌ مَّجْنُونٌ

 إِنَّا كَاشِفُو الْعَذَابِ قَلِيلًا ۚإِنَّكُمْ عَائِدُونَ

 يَوْمَ نَبْطِشُ الْبَطْشَةَ الْكُبْرَىٰ إِنَّا مُنتَقِمُونَ

44:17-29. We tried the people of Pharaoh before them. There came to them a noble Messenger, who said to them: Restore to me the servants of Allah; I am a faithful Messenger sent to you, to warn you not to exalt yourselves in defiance of Allah. I come to you with a clear authority. I seek the protection of my Lord and yours against your insults. If you believe not in me, then leave me alone.

Then he called on his Lord: This is indeed a sinful people; and his Lord directed him: Set forth with My servants by night; you will surely be pursued. Then leave the sea behind, treading along the furrows of the dunes. Surely, Pharaoh’s host are doomed to be drowned. They left behind many a garden and spring, and cornfield, and comfortable dwelling, and luxury in which they delighted. Thus it was; and We made another people inherit all that. The heaven and the earth mourned them not, nor were they granted respite.

 وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا قَبْلَهُمْ قَوْمَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَجَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ كَرِيمٌ

 أَنْ أَدُّوا إِلَيَّ عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ

 وَأَن لَّا تَعْلُوا عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنِّي آتِيكُم بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

 وَإِنِّي عُذْتُ بِرَبِّي وَرَبِّكُمْ أَن تَرْجُمُونِ

 وَإِن لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا لِي فَاعْتَزِلُونِ

 فَدَعَا رَبَّهُ أَنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمٌ مُّجْرِمُونَ

 فَأَسْرِ بِعِبَادِي لَيْلًا إِنَّكُم مُّتَّبَعُونَ

 وَاتْرُكِ الْبَحْرَ رَهْوًا ۖ إِنَّهُمْ جُندٌ مُّغْرَقُونَ

 كَمْ تَرَكُوا مِن جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ

  وَزُرُوعٍ وَمَقَامٍ كَرِيمٍ

 وَنَعْمَةٍ كَانُوا فِيهَا فَاكِهِينَ

 كَذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَأَوْرَثْنَاهَا قَوْمًا آخَرِينَ

 فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَاءُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنظَرِينَ

44:30-33. We delivered the children of Israel from the humiliating torment inflicted on them by Pharaoh. He was surely haughty and of the extravagant. We chose them deliberately above the peoples of their time. We gave them revelations in which there was a clear test.

 وَلَقَدْ نَجَّيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ الْمُهِينِ

 مِن فِرْعَوْنَ ۚ إِنَّهُ كَانَ عَالِيًا مِّنَ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

  وَلَقَدِ اخْتَرْنَاهُمْ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

 وَآتَيْنَاهُم مِّنَ الْآيَاتِ مَا فِيهِ بَلَاءٌ مُّبِينٌ

44:34-42. The disbelievers of Makkah say: There is only one death for us and we shall not be raised up again. Bring back our fathers if you speak the truth.
Are they better than the people of Tubba and those before them? We destroyed them because they were sinful.We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in sport. We created them for an enduring purpose, but most of them know not. The Day of Judgment is the appointed time for all of them; the Day when a friend shall not avail a friend at all, nor shall they be helped, save those to whom Allah shows mercy. Surely, He is the Mighty, the Ever Merciful.

 إِنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ لَيَقُولُونَ

 إِنْ هِيَ إِلَّا مَوْتَتُنَا الْأُولَىٰ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُنشَرِينَ

 فَأْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

 أَهُمْ خَيْرٌ أَمْ قَوْمُ تُبَّعٍ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۚ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ

  وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا لَاعِبِينَ

 مَا خَلَقْنَاهُمَا إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

 إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ مِيقَاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

 يَوْمَ لَا يُغْنِي مَوْلًى عَن مَّوْلًى شَيْئًا وَلَا هُمْ يُنصَرُونَ

 إِلَّا مَن رَّحِمَ اللَّـهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ

44:43-50. The tree of Zaqqum is the food of the sinful; like hot molten metal, it will boil in their bellies, like the boiling of scalding water. The angels will be commanded: Seize this sinful one, and drag him into the midst of the blazing Fire; then pour upon his head the torment of boiling water. He will be told: Now suffer this, you who did hold yourself mighty and noble. This is that which you doubted.

  إِنَّ شَجَرَتَ الزَّقُّومِ

 طَعَامُ الْأَثِيمِ

 كَالْمُهْلِ يَغْلِي فِي الْبُطُونِ

 كَغَلْيِ الْحَمِيمِ

 خُذُوهُ فَاعْتِلُوهُ إِلَىٰ سَوَاءِ الْجَحِيمِ

 ثُمَّ صُبُّوا فَوْقَ رَأْسِهِ مِنْ عَذَابِ الْحَمِيمِ

 ذُقْ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْكَرِيمُ

 إِنَّ هَـٰذَا مَا كُنتُم بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ

44:51-59. Indeed, the righteous will be in a place of security, amid gardens and springs, attired in fine silk and heavy brocade, facing one another. Thus will it be. We shall give them as companions fair maidens, having wide lustrous eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit, dwelling in security. They will not suffer any death therein after the first death, and Allah will safeguard them against the torment of the Fire, as an act of grace from your Lord. That is the supreme triumph.

We have made the Quran easy to understand, in your own language (Muhammad) that they may take heed. So wait; the disbelievers too are waiting.

 إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي مَقَامٍ أَمِينٍ

  فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ

 يَلْبَسُونَ مِن سُندُسٍ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٍ مُّتَقَابِلِينَ

 كَذَٰلِكَ وَزَوَّجْنَاهُم بِحُورٍ عِينٍ

  يَدْعُونَ فِيهَا بِكُلِّ فَاكِهَةٍ آمِنِينَ

 لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْتَ إِلَّا الْمَوْتَةَ الْأُولَىٰ ۖ وَوَقَاهُمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ

  فَضْلًا مِّن رَّبِّكَ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

 فَإِنَّمَا يَسَّرْنَاهُ بِلِسَانِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ

 فَارْتَقِبْ إِنَّهُم مُّرْتَقِبُونَ

Commentary

We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. (87:16-19) The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Al Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Al Waqi’ah.

These are the two common themes that are discussed in almost every surah, and are the fundamental teachings for which all the 124,000 prophets were sent by God, with prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, with the final message the holy Quran. With this paradigm the commentary of most of the verses becomes very clear just in the light of the introduction and the translation.

44:34-36

“The disbelievers of Makkah say: There is only one death for us and we shall not be raised up again. Bring back our fathers if you speak the truth.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary about these verses:

These verses present a way of denying the Resurrection also employed by the Makkan idolaters in 45:25 and 56:47-48.

44:38-39

“We did not create the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in sport. We created them for an enduring purpose, but most of them know not.”

There are several verses in the Quran that state that God created our universe and our solar system with بِالْحَقِّ, which means truth, wisdom and with a purpose. For example, in Surah Yunus we read:

هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ الشَّمْسَ ضِيَاءً وَالْقَمَرَ نُورًا وَقَدَّرَهُ مَنَازِلَ لِتَعْلَمُوا عَدَدَ السِّنِينَ وَالْحِسَابَ ۚ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّـهُ ذَٰلِكَ إِلَّا بِالْحَقِّ ۚ يُفَصِّلُ الْآيَاتِ لِقَوْمٍ يَعْلَمُونَ

“He it is Who made the sun radiate a brilliant light and the moon reflect a luster, and ordained for it stages, that you might know the number of years and the reckoning of time. Allah has not created this but in truth. He details the Signs for a people who have knowledge.” (10:5)

The modern scientific translation of creating the universe with or ‘in truth’ would also mean that Allah created the universe with laws of mathematics and physics: 2016 Nobel in Physics Shows Again: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences and The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences.

The best commentary of the verses under discussion is a debate between well known theists and atheists. Three well known atheists, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Matt Ridley debated two Christian and a Jewish apologist, including William Lane Craig, in 2010 in Mexico, regarding the purpose of our universe and the human life, mainly in English:

For a Muslim perspective on this debate please click here.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary about these verses:

Cf. 21:16; 38:27. Similar to v. 38, in 23:115, the denizens of Hell are asked, Did you suppose, then, that We created you frivolously, and that you would not be returned unto Us? Similar to v. 39, other verses say, And We did not create the heavens and the earth and whatsoever is between them, save in truth (15:85: 46:3). All such verses indicate that, contrary to the pre-Islamic understanding of creation in Arabia, creation has a definite purpose. With regard to human beings, this means that they are created for faith and obedience (Aj), as in 51:56, I did not create jinn and mankind, save to worship Me, and to be resurrected and requited in accord with the degree to which they fulfilled their purpose.

44:40

“The Day of Judgment is the appointed time for all of them.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary about this verse:

That creation is not made frivolously or in play (v.  38) alludes to the consequences of its being created for a purpose and thus to Resurrection and the Day of Judgment (R), which is here called the Day of Division (37:21; 77:13-14, 38; 78:17; see also 10:28; 30:14, 43), indicating the manner in which people will be divided from relatives and loved ones (Aj) and the manner in which the Judgment will divide believers and disbelievers from one another for eternity.

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