Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Great Prophecy (78:1-5)


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

وَالصَّلَاة وَالسَّلَام عَلَى خَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ

وَالعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ

The Qurân al-Azîm consists of thirty parts, with the thirtieth part bearing an unmistakably apocalyptic theme. The very first five Âyât acquaint the reader with that theme. These appear in the 78th Sûrah of the Qurân, named an-Nabâ, meaning “the Prophecy”. The word نَبَأ means: “news, tidings; disclosures, revelations; prophecy” (Arabic-English Dictionary of Quranic Usage, pp.914-915). The word Nabî (prophet) is derived from the same triconsonantal root. In this entry, we shall examine the beginning of this Sûrah, i.e., its first five Âyât:

عَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ۞

About what are they questioning one another?

It is not immediately clear to whom the Qurân is referring to here. However, it appears that this is a reference to any group of people who discuss and ask each other about the “Great News” or the “Great Prophecy”:

عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ۞

About the Great News

As has already preceded, Nabâ usually means news  that is predictive, informing about an event that shall take place in the future. Generally, the classical exegetes consider “the Great News” as referring to the prophecy regarding Judgment Day, when the dead are resurrected from their graves and made to stand before Allâhumma for the final judgment. The prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad صلوات الله وسلامه عليه is largely concerned with warning mankind about Judgment Day. Being the last and final prophet, the content of his prophecies are regarding the greatest event that shall soon occur. This does not mean that the Prophet’sصلوات الله وسلامه عليه prophecies or the Qurân do not speak of other monumental events and other things that shall happen in this world before Judgment Day. The Sûrah itself indicates that the “Great News” is the news about يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ the “Day of Decision” (78:17), and then expands on the reality of that Day in graphic detail in the proceeding verses, leaving no room for doubt that it is speaking of Judgment Day and the Resurrection.

الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ مُخْتَلِفُونَ۞

Which they are, concerning it, differing

The people who are discussing and questioning each other about the “Great News” are actually in disagreement with each other regarding its reality. They are at variance with each other about not only whether it shall occur or not, but possibly this may encompass another kind of differing, i.e., those who believe in the occurrence of Judgment Day but differ with each other regarding some of its particulars, but Allâh knows best.

كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ۞ ثُمَّ كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ۞

No way! They will soon know.

Then again, no way! They will soon know.

Kallâ is a particle of aversion and repulsion used for emphasis. The second of these two verses is to further emphasize the imminence of the event, Judgment Day, which the “Great News” points to. Its reality will shortly become known to those who are differing regarding it. While in our dimension Judgment Day may seem far off, once a person dies he enters into another dimension in which he immediately discovers that this world is not all that there is, and that his soul is going to be held accountable for its sins and that he shall be resurrected to stand before Allâhumma for the final judgment. Hence the imminence of Judgment Day is based on the imminence and proximity of death, which is why the latter is also described as the “Hour” for the individual soul that shall experience death, and is a kind of “judgment day” in itself.

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