Tafsir of Surah al Tariq - The Night Visitant (Surah 86)

by 'Abdur-Rahmân ibn Nâsir as-Sa'dî

Translated by Abű Rumaysah

  1) By the heaven and the night-visitant! 2) What will make you realise what the night-visitant is? 3) The piercing star! 4) There is no soul except that it has a guardian over it.  

Allah, Most High, says, “By the heaven and the night-visitant,” proceeding to explain what this is: “What will make you realize what the night-visitant is? The piercingly star!” i.e. brilliantly luminous, whose light pierces the expanse of the heaven, traversing its distance until it is seen on earth. The correct opinion concerning al-Tariq is that it does not refer to any particular star but to the genus of luminous stars. It is also postulated that it refers to Saturn. It is called al-Tariq because it comes out at night. The point of the oath is (to stress), “There is no soul except that it has a guardian over it,” carefully recording its good and evil deeds and it will be judged by these deeds.

  5) So let man look at what he was created from. 6) He was created from a spurting fluid, 7) emerging from between the backbone and the breast-bones.  

“So let man look at what he was created from,” let him ponder his creation carefully and his point of origin. “He was created from a spurting fluid,” i.e. semen “emerging from between the backbone and the breast-bones,” it is possible that this phrase means: from between the backbone of the man and the breast-bones of the woman. It is also possible that the phrase means: from between the backbone and breast-bones of man. This second opinion seems to be the stronger one as what is being discussed is a fluid which is observable and seen to be ejaculated, i.e. the man’s seminal fluid. Moreover, the word tara’ib refers to the male breast-bone and Allah knows best.

  8) Certainly, He is fully able to return him [to life]* 9) on the Day when all secrets will be laid bare and examined. 10) Then he will have no power or helper.  

The One who brought man into existence through this spurting fluid extracted from this intricate and complex place, “Certainly, He is fully able to return him (to life),” in the Hereafter, able to put his body back together that it may be resurrected and judged. It is also said that the meaning of the verse is that Allah is able to return the seminal fluid to its place. This meaning, although in itself correct, is not the intent of this verse for Allah proceeds to say, “on the Day when all secrets will be laid bare,” when all the secrets concealed in one’s breast are examined and all that is in the hearts of good and evil is made plain being written across the pages that will be our faces, “The Day when some faces will be white and some faces will be black.”[1] In this world one is able to hide many things and is able to conceal them from people. However, on the Day of Rising, the piety of the righteous will be in plain sight as will the iniquity of wicked, as such all matters will come to light. “Then he” himself “will have no power,” to hold back the examination, “or” external “helper,” to aid him in this.

Therefore the point of the beginning oath as a whole is to stress the deeds of man and their resulting recompense.

  11) By the sky with its recurring [cycles]** 12) and by the earth which splits open [with vegetation]: 13) this truly is a decisive statement. 14) It is not frivolity.  

Then Allah takes a second oath to stress the authenticity of the Qur’an. “By the sky with its recurring (cycles),” of rain coming back year after year, “and by the earth which splits open,” with vegetation. It is with these two that man and animal alike sustain life. The heaven also continuously returns decrees and other heavenly matters and the earth splits asunder for the dead. “This” the Qur’an “truly is a decisive statement,” true and correct, clear and explicit, “it is not frivolity,” rather it is of grave import, it gives a decisive word concerning the differences between various sects and beliefs and through it are disputes resolved.

  15) They are hatching a plot, 16) but I too am hatching a plot. 17) So bear with the disbelievers. Leave them awhile.  

“They” who deny the Messenger (SAW) and the Qur’an “are hatching a plot,” to repress truth and aid falsehood, “and I too am hatching a plot,” to manifest the truth “even if the disbelievers detest it”[2] and repress the falsehood of the disbelievers. Therefore, we already know who the victor is: man is far too feeble and mean to be able to defeat the Omnipotent, the All-Knowing! “So bear with the disbelievers. Leave them awhile,” a short while and soon will they know their end when the punishment descends upon them!


Endnotes

* or: “Certainly, He is fully able to return it [to its place].”

** i.e. recurring rain and cycle of the sun and moon

1. Ali`'Imran (3): 106
2. al-Tawbah (9): 32


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