The term Al-Balad contained in the title is difficult to translate, for its meaning ranges from the idea of 'city' to 'country', and includes that of district, home town, municipality, community, or land. Various versions use most of these English terms. It here means the sacred surroundings of Mecca.
In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!
* I swear by [this] countryside,
* you are a native settled on this land
* as well as any parent and whatever he may father.
* We have created man under stress.
** Does he reckon that no one
can do anything against him? * He says:
"I have used up piles of money!"
*Does he consider that no one sees him?
* Have We not granted him both eyes,
* a tongue and two lips,
and guided him along both highroads?
Yet he does not tackle the Obstacle!
What will make you realize
what the Obstacle is?
* [It means] redeeming the captive,
* or feeding ** some orphaned relative
on a day of famine * or some needy person
Then he will act like someone who believes,
recommends patience and encourages mercifulness.
* Those will be the companions on the right-hand side,
* while the ones who disbelieve in Our signs
will be companions on the sinister side:
**above them a fire will hem them in.
Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving.