An urgent message and strophic form underlies the chapter's rhythm. The poetic vision here suggests that life is a race, and it speaks of future rewards. We meet three groups: first the 'Pioneers"; then "Those on the Right" (I); and finally "Those on the Left" (II). In the last section (III) the Quran itself is discussed.
In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!
The Last Judgement
(I) * When the Inevitable arrives
* no one will deny its happening,
* humbling, exalting!
* The earth will be rocked with a jolt ** and the mountains crumble to pieces * and become dust that is scattered about. * You will form three groups: * the Companions on the Right (What do the Companions on the Right [mean]?); * the Companions on the Left (What do the Companions on the Unlucky side [mean]?); ** and the Pioneers will be out there leading!
* Those will be the nearest * in gardens of bliss, * a multitude from early men * and a few from later ones ** on couches set close together, * leaning back on them, facing one another. * Immortal youths will stroll around them * with glasses, pitchers, and a cup from a fountain * which will not upset them nor dull their senses; ** and any fruit that they may choose, * and the meat from any fowl they may desire; * and bright-eyed damsels [chaste] just like treasured pearls, * as a reward for what they have been doing. ** They will not hear any idle talk there nor any fault-finding, * merely people saying: "Peace! Peace!"
Those on the Right
* The Companions on the Right- * what about the Companions on the Right? * [They will be] among hawthoms trimmed of their thorns, * and bananas piled bunch on bunch, ** with their shade spread out, * water pouring forth, * and plenty of fruit * which is neither rationed nor forbidden, * and padded furniture raised [off the floor]. ** We have produced special women * and made them (ever) virgins, * easy to get along with and of their same age, * for the Companions on the Right, * a multitude from early men ** as well as a multitude from later ones.
Those on the Left
(II)* The Companions on the Unlucky side, what about the Companions on the Left? * In a scorching wind, scalding water, * and the shade of pitch-black smoke, * which is neither cool nor refreshing. ** They had been luxuriating before that happened * and persisted in awesome blasphemy, * and kept on saying: 'When we have died and become dust and bones, will we be raised up again? * Along with our earliest forefathers?"
* SAY: "The earlier and the later ones will be gathered together for an appointment on a well-known day. Then you mistaken rejectors * will be eating something from the Infernal Tree, * filling (your) bellies with it * and drinking scalding water in addition, ** lapping it up, the way thirsty [camels] drink."
God's Role in Reproduction
* Such will be their fare on the Day for Repayment! * We created you, if you would only acknowledge it. * Have you ever considered what you emit? * Did you create it, or are We its Creators? ** We have ordained death for (all of) you; no one will get ahead to prevent Us * from changing your attributes, and transforming you into something you would never recognize.
* You know about the first transformation, if you will only recall it. * Have you considered what you plant as crops? * Do you farm it or are We the Farmers? ** If We so wished, We would turn it into chaff so you would do nothing but exclaim: * "We are debt-ridden; * in fact, we are destitute!"
* Have you ever considered the water you drink? * Do you pour down from the rainclouds or are, We its Pourers? ** If We so wished, We might make it brackish. If you would only act grateful!
* Have you considered the Fire you kindle? * Are you the ones who grow its trees [for firewood] or are We their Growers? * We have granted it as a Reminder and enjoyment for those living in the wilderness.
* So celebrate your Lord's almighty name!
(III) ** Yet I swear by the stars' positions * (it is a serious oath, if you only knew it!) * that it is a Noble Quran * [kept] as a treasured Book * which none but the purified may touch, ** something sent down by the Lord of the Universe.
* Are you (all) trying to dodge this report? * Are you making [the fact] that you reject it into your means of livelihood? * Why not
The Arrogant Challenged
-when [your soul] leaps to your throat [at death] * and you are then observing, ** (We are even Nearer to it than you are, even though you do not notice it)-
* provided you are not under any obligation, * answer back if you are truthful...!
* Thus if he is one of those who are drawn close * [he will have] contentment, fragrance, and a garden of bliss- ** while if he is one of the Companions on the Right: "Peace be on you" [will be the greeting) from the Companions on the Right.
* However if he is one of the mistaken rejectors * a welcome of scalding water * plus a roasting in Hades [will await him]. ** This is the absolute Truth;
* So celebrate our Lord's almighty name!
Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving.