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  Sura 69 of the Quran  
The Reality

Arabic text · English translation

Classification Meccan
Other names The Inevitable Hour, The Indubitable, The Inevitable Truth, The Reality
Position Juzʼ 29
Number of Rukus 2
Number of verses 52
Number of words 260
Number of letters 1,133

Sūrat al-Ḥāqqah (Arabic: سورة الحاقة‎‎) is the 69th sura of the Qur'an with 52 ayat. There are several English names under which the surah is known. These include “The Inevitable Hour”, “The Indubitable”, “The Inevitable Truth”, and “The Reality”. These titles are derived from alternate translations of al-Ḥāqqa, the word that appears in the first three ayat of the sura. “al-Ḥāqqa! What is al-Ḥāqqa? What will explain to you what al-Ḥāqqa is?” Though each of these titles may sound very different, each one alludes to the main theme of the sura – the Day of Judgment.

Respected Islamist scholar Sayyid Qutb makes a very interesting observation on the actual sound of al-Ḥāqqa, “The very sound of the word imparts a feeling of decisiveness, seriousness, and a grounding stability. It sounds like a heavy object being lifted some considerable distance before being placed firmly into position. The strongly aspirated ‘h’ sound appears to be lifted by the elongated ‘a’ before it is firmly placed at the doubled ‘q’ and then finally stabilized with the final ‘h’ sound.”[1]

Historical context[edit]

Al-Ḥāqqa is a Meccan sura,[2] meaning it was revealed to the prophet while he lived in Mecca as opposed to Medina. Meccan suras divided into early, middle, and late periods. Theodor Nöldeke in his widely accepted chronology of suras places al-Ḥāqqa as the thirty-fifth sura to be revealed.[3] This places the sura in the early Meccan period - between approximately 612 and 617 AD.

Early Meccan suras are especially influenced by their historical context. At the time, Pagan polytheism dominated western Arabia and Islam was a very small budding religion. Muhammad had very little religious, political, or social power. The suras of this period consequently deal less with specifics and concentrate on a few central themes. Scholar[according to whom?] John Gilchrist points this out in one of his commentaries, “the early Meccan surahs are all somewhat similar and concentrate on the issues which first impressed themselves upon Muhammad, namely the waywardness of his people, the judgment to come, and the destiny of all men to heaven or to hell.”[4]

Thematic breakdown[edit]

Though the Sura's holistic focus is the Day of Judgement, it is broken up into three main thematic units that coincide with Gilchrist's commentary. The first (I) (ayat 1-12) details the punishment given to disbelievers on earth. The second (II) (ayat 13-37) describes the Day of Judgement and subsequent afterlife. The third (III) (ayat 38-52) affirms the message of the Qur'an and the validity of the Prophet.

I: God's punishment of the disbelievers[edit]

The sura begins with the terrible punishment given to communities of unbelievers – specifically the people of ‘Ad and Thamud. "The people of Thamud and ‘Ad denied that the crashing blow (The Day of Judgment) would come: Thamud was destroyed by a deafening blast; ‘Ad was destroyed by a furious wind that God let loose against them for seven consecutive nights, eight consecutive days, so that you could have seen its people lying dead like hollow palm-trunks. Can you see any trace of them now?"[5]

This direct punishment of non-believers at the hand of God creates a powerful image of Him. This powerful image was especially important during the formative years of Islam - a time when pagan idolatry and polytheism dominated the religious landscape. By painting a powerful picture of God, the Qur'an supports its central monotheistic platform of one God, all-powerful, all-knowing.

It is important to note the naturalistic imagery used in describing the destruction of ‘Ad and Thamud. From a sociological perspective, this would have been very effective on the community of early believers. Consider the context in which these people lived – vast expanses of desert, high winds, little water, food, or shelter. Nature was simultaneously respected and feared by Arabs. Therefore, it was especially effective for the Qur'an to illuminate God's full control of nature. After hearing this story, the wind could be a constant reminder of God’s power to a believer.

II: Day of Judgment and the afterlife[edit]

The second section of the sura describes the Day of Judgment. “When the Trumpet is sounded a single time, when the earth and its mountains are raised high and then crushed with a single blow, on that Day the Great Event will come to pass. The sky will be torn apart on that Day, it will be so frail.”[6]

These verses use similar, powerful naturalistic imagery to describe the Day of Judgment.

No specific time for the Day of Judgment is given here, or anywhere else in the Qur'an. This purposeful ambiguity creates a sense of immediacy for believers – the Day of Judgment could occur at any moment. This is a reminder to believers to follow God always, because you never know when their judgment will come. Another way the Qur'an reminds us about the Day of Judgment is simple repetition. The day is a central theme of many suras, and is mentioned in many seemingly unrelated suras. This puts the issue to the forefront of a reader’s mind.

Later on in section 2, details of the afterlife are given. On the Day of Judgment “you will be exposed and none of your secrets will remain hidden.”[7] The people who are judged positively, and have nothing to hide, will “have a pleasant life in a lofty Garden, with clustered fruit within his reach.”[8] But anyone who did not follow God is met with terrible punishment. God says, “‘Take him, put a collar on him, lead him to burn in the blazing Fire, and [bind him] in a chain seventy metres a long: he would not believe in Almighty God, he never encouraged feeding the hungry, so today he has no real friend here, and the only food he has is the filth that only sinners eat.”[9]

These verses create a stark contrast between the rewards of the believers and the punishments of the disbelievers. This is accomplished through, tangible, physical language. The physical pleasures of the gardens of heaven are contrasted against the unbearable pains of hell. These powerful descriptions give readers of the Qur'an clear expectations of the afterlife and provide good incentive to follow God.

III: Affirmation of the Qur'an and its messenger[edit]

In the final section of the sura, God affirms the truth of the Qur'an and the validity of its messenger. “This [Qurʾan] is a message sent down from the Lord of the Worlds.”[10] “this [Qurʾan] is the speech of an honored messenger, not the words of a poet—“[11] This affirmation is seen at the beginning or ends of many suras in the Meccan period, and for good reason. When Muhammad was in Mecca, the new religion of Islam was a vast minority to the Pagan polytheistic tradition. These affirmations therefore served to reassure believers, and the Prophet, that they are following the right path. So to the disbelievers the Qur'an states, “We know that some of you consider it to be lies—this will be a source of bitter regret for the disbelievers—but it is in fact the certain Truth.”[12]


  1. ^ Sayyid Qutb In the Shade of the Qur'an pp. 207-208
  2. ^ Carl Ernst How to Read the Qur'an p. 216
  3. ^ Carl Ernst How to Read the Qur'an, p. 40
  4. ^ ‘Muhammad and The Religion of Islam’ - John Gilchrist -
  5. ^ Ayat 4-8
  6. ^ Ayat 13-17
  7. ^ Ayah 18
  8. ^ Ayat 22-23
  9. ^ Ayat 30-37
  10. ^ Ayah 43
  11. ^ Ayat 40-41
  12. ^ Ayat 49-51

External links[edit]

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