Informal notes for a tafsir class on Surat al-Qiyamah

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi The theme of this surah is the raising of the deadfor the Judgement. Its two opening verses forcefully negate the unbelievers’ denial that there is an afterlife. In these notesI reflect ontwo matters: (1) the needand benefit of belief in the hereafter; and (2) the meaning and consequences of the unbelievers’ denial of the afterlife. Thereafter, against the background of these reflections, I set out a summary of the argument of Surat al-Qiyamah. (1) The need and benefit of belief in the Last Day In several places in the Qur’an, God says that those who…

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Surat al-Insan/al-Dahr

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi This surah can be paired with the one before it. Al-Qiyamah ended with a brief account of the lowly first stages of a human life, from which one can hardly imagine that there could emerge so complex a creature as a human being capable of knowing right from wrong and therefore self-accusing. Surat al-Insan begins with mention of those first stages of a human life and the forceful affirmation that in the whole of time (al-dahr) there is not any period (however small) in which a human being is to be considered unworthy of mention,…

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Surat al-Takwir and Surat al Infitar

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi These surahs compel us to call to mind realities that we accept are true but which we almost-never include in our conscious, deliberate calculations when we decide on a course of action or when we put a value on something, when we say it is good, bad, or worth this much or that much. No human being is unaware that they were born, that for many years (before they became sure and fully conscious of themselves) they were needy and dependent on others for survival; no human being is unaware that at some time in…

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Surah Nuh

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi This surah is a condensed overview of the themes found in more extended narration elsewhere in the Qur’an, of the story of Nuh `alayhi s-salam, notably Surah Hud. As always in the Qur’an, the focus on certain elements does not mean that other elements of the whole story are not remembered and not relevant. Rather they are remembered and relevant in a particular light derived from the focus of the particular surah. The major, central themes of the Qur’an are found in this surah closely juxtaposed to each other so that the message of the…

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Informal notes for a tafsir class on Surat al-Muzzammil

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi The surah is named after the word in the opening verse. It is an important image. It first calls to mind someone wrapped up against the sharp cold of a cloudless desert night. Then, it calls to mind someone wrapped in solitude, by the cloak and by the darkness and stillness – cut off from the diverse sensations, distractions and preoccupations of daylight hours which bring much information and incident that we have to react to and deal with. This being cut off from the world is not absolute: the world is still there —…

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Read in the Name of Thy Lord who Created: A Look at the True Meaning of the First Revelation

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwī and translated by Dr. Abu Zayd To access the original arabic, follow this link They said: Explain the statement of God—“Read in the name of your Lord who created!”— and remove the shrouds of confusion from us, since it is the very first revelation of the Qurʾān upon the Prophet and it is not clear to us what was the reason for this command to read. We have reviewed the various views of interpreters, but that exercise has only pushed us into foolishness and stupidity and increased the muddling of the truth and even more…

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