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54. The Moon
(or The Hour Approaches)

THIS CHAPTER was revealed after The Nightcomer 86 and before (The Letter) Sad 38. It consists of three sections of 55 early Meccan verses, except for vv. 44-46 in section III which date from Madina. A prevailing rhyme uses -r as a final consonant. The chapter moreover bears the haunting refrain which is first stated in vv. 16-17: "How were My torment and My warnings!"

This refrain underlines how prophets like Noah, Hud (I), Salih and Lot (II) were rejected by their own people in times past, Hud by Ad, and Salih by Thamud. Thus Muhammad should take comfort for himself. The fate of Pharaoh is also mentioned in the final section (III), which ends in an apocalyptic description of the final Hour which is intended to shock disbelievers and associators into meditating on their errors.

In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!

(I) * The Hour approaches and the Moon is splitting apart! * Yet if they see any sign, they avoid it and say: 'It's constant magic!" * They deny [it all] and follow their own whims, even though every matter has been settled.

* News has come to them containing a rebuke, ** as eloquent wisdom, even though warners can get nowhere. * So turn away from them on the day when the Crier will call out about a horrible event. * Their eyes cast down, they will issue forth from their tombs as if they were scattered grasshoppers * dashing along towards the Crier. Disbelievers will say: "This is such a hard day!"


* Noah's folk denied it long before them; they rejected Our servant and said: "[He's] crazy!", and he was rebuffed. ** He appealed to his Lord: "I have been overpowered, so support [me]!" * So We opened Heaven's gates for water to pour down. * We drilled the earth full of springs and the waters met at a command which had been decreed. * We transported him on something built with planks and caulking * which sailed on before Our eyes, as a reward for someone who had been rejected. ** We left it as a sign; yet will anyone bear it in mind?

* How were My torment, and My warnings?
* We have made the Quran easy to memorize;
yet will anyone [bother to] memorize it?


* Ad rejected it. How were My torment, and My warnings? * We sent a howling gale against them on a day full of continuous misfortune ** which snatched men up as if they were hollow palm trunks.

* How were My torment, and My warnings!
* We have made the Quran easy to memorize;
yet will anyone memorize it?

Thamud and Salih

(II) * Thamud rejected My warnings too * and they said: "Are we to follow a single human being from among ourselves? We would then be in error and frenzy. ** Has the Reminder been delivered merely to him among Us? Instead he is a brash liar."

* Tomorrow they will know who the brash liar is! * We are sending them a she-camel as a test, so watch them and act patient. * Announce to them how water must be shared among them; each will have his own special time to drink. * They called out to their companion; and he assumed the task and hamstrung [her].

** How were My torment, and My warnings?
* (We sent a single Blast against them
so they [lay] like dry stalks
caught in a fence corner.)
* We have made the Quran easy to memorize;
yet will anyone [bother to] memorize it?

Lot and Sodom

* Lot's people rejected the warnings. * We sent a sandstorm against them, except for Lot's own household whom We saved at daybreak ** as a favor from Ourself; thus We reward anyone who acts grateful. * He had warned them of Our onslaught, yet they discredited the warnings. * They tried to coax his guests away from him, so We dazzled their eyes. "Taste My torment and My warnings!" * Early one, morning, unavoidable torment dawned upon them.

* "Taste My torment and My warnings!"
** We have made the Quran easy to memorize;
yet will anyone memorize it?


(III) * Warnings came to Pharaoh's court. * Yet they rejected Our signs completely, so We seized them the way a Powerful, Competent person would seize [them]. * Are your disbelievers any better than those men were, or have you some dispensation [to be found] in the Psalms? * Or do they say: "We all support one another"?

The Hour of Bitter Disaster

** They will all be defeated together and turn their backs [to run away]. * Indeed the Hour has been promised them; the Hour will be quite disastrous and most bitter. * Criminals will be lost in error and frenzy. * Some day they will be dragged face down through the Fire: "Experience the sense of scorching!"

* We have created everything in due proportion. ** Our command comes only once, in the twinkling of an eye! * We wiped out your adherents; does no one recall it? * Everything they did is [to be found] in the Psalms; * everything small or great has been recorded. * The heedful will be by gardens and a river ** in a sure position under a Competent Sovereign.


Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving.