In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
- By those running and uttering cries!
- And by those producing fire, striking!
- And those suddenly attacking at morn!
- Then thereby they raise dust,
- Then penetrate thereby gatherings
- Surely man is ungrateful to his Lord.
- And surely he is a witness of that.
- And truly on account of the love of wealth he is niggardly.
- Knows he not when that which is in the graves is raised,
- And that which is the breasts is made manifest?
- Surely their Lord this day is Aware of them.
This chapter, Al-Adiyat (The Assaulters), was revealed
at Makkah. A prophecy about a great imminent revolution had been
made in the preceding chapter, Al-Zilzal (The Shaking).
In this chapter, Al-Adiyat, the Muslims have been told
that the success of the revolution will depend upon the struggle
made by them. Until a nation takes its struggle to its climax, no
grand and awe-inspiring changes can be made in the religious field
of life. With the struggle and exertion put in by a horse as an
analogy and as a model, the human being, the highest form of creation,
has been roused to action. Allah, Most High, says:
1-6. By those running and uttering cries!
And by those producing fire, striking!
And those suddenly attacking at morn!
Then thereby they raise dust,
Then penetrate thereby gatherings
Surely man is ungrateful to his Lord.
No other analogy could be as effective as that of a horse in the
case of the Arabs because in Arabia a horse was a greatly loved
animal and no doubt it was worthy of their love because the loyalty,
the hard struggle and obedience of an Arab horse to its master is
legendary. The analogy that has been presented here was no doubt
an everyday scene for the Arabs of those days, but even today, the
graphic sketch portrayed here to our eyes, of obedience and loyalty,
cannot be equalled by another picture.
Here, the object is to make the reader understand the analogy of
the horse: look at how the horse renders obedience to its master's
commands, a master who provides the horse with ordinary nurturing,
that is, he feeds and waters it and cares for it; how it runs at
his master's bidding, and the reins that are held by the master
can direct the horse to turn or to run faster and faster. Yet its
obedience and loyalty to its master is so perfect that it does not
show the slightest reluctance in starting to move and to run at
the master's command and signal. When the master desires it to work,
it runs according to his command and signal. It not only runs, but
runs and runs till it starts panting. Panting, in fact, is a signal
from nature of the danger entailed in the exertion; it says that
the exertion has reached such a pitch that the heart can no longer
cope with it, and if this hard running continues for any length
of time, the heart will fail, leading to death. Indeed, many a man
and horse have fallen and died when running, but the horse keeps
on running, even when panting, at the master's signal. By panting,
its limbs and faculties are hinting at the danger of death, yet
the regard for safeguarding its reputation for loyalty and obedience
drives it on and it cares not a bit even for death, and continues
to exert itself to the utmost limit under the master's orders. This
gives us an idea of the intensity of its exertion.
Now let us turn our attention to the state of the road. It will
not be a difficult task if the road is easy and soft and offers
no hardship during this arduous run, but the master of the horse
puts it on hard and rocky terrain and the rocks are so hard that
they may well nigh break the foot. As the foot of the horse hits
them, sparks fly off. But even there, the horse does not disobey
the master's command but it hits this hard road at once and continues
to exert itself with such grace, and continues to strike the road
with such fury that wherever the foot falls, sparks fly off. We
now have an idea of the intensity of the struggle and the hardships
of the road.
Now let us look at the difficulties of the timing. In this world,
the day is meant for work and the night for rest. No matter how
hard one works during the day, if the fatigued human or animal can
go to his place of rest and go to sleep, he gets up the next day
quite refreshed for the struggle that commences the next morning.
But what of the horse? Allah, Most High, explains: If the master
needs its services during the night, though it is meant for rest,
he calls upon it to go to work, for an all-night sprint will enable
the master to mount a surprise raid on the enemy at dawn. So, at
such a time the horse cares not a whit about this untimely pursuit.
On being given the command by the master, it does not care whether
it is day or night. Casting aside all thought of rest and sleep,
it starts off at its master's bidding and begins to run on a rocky
and difficult path, and panting, it keeps running, putting its own
life at risk. Galloping all night without any rest, it reaches its
destination by dawn and forthwith attacks the enemy.
Let us recap. Three difficulties have been mentioned so far: unbearably
hard work and difficulties on the journey entailing the risk of
death; the difficulties encountered on the way and the difficulties
of the timing of the run. The point is made here that the horse
cares not a bit about these three difficulties and gives top priority
to the obeying of orders. In such a struggle, there are two other
difficulties; one is the anxiety for those left behind, and the
second is the fear of what the future may hold. So, here we are
told that the daring and the bravery of the horse in this respect
is worth emulating. It continues to go forward under his master's
orders, caring not at all about what is left behind. The only thing
that one can see in its rear is the dust it stirs up with its hard
gallop, which is proclaiming the intensity of its struggle. The
horse is only concerned with obeying the master's command and not
caring about what may happen in the rear.
Similarly, as for what may befall it in the future, it cares not
a whit. After running all night, panting, after making sparks fly
off the rocks on the road, after covering the entire distance by
night, no rest station is its lot, no food or fodder is ready for
it. Instead, the enemy hosts stand in front. To attack them and
to enter their ranks is to enter the jaws of death. But the horse
is not at all worried about this in the presence of the master's
orders. Obeying the command of the master, it charges into the enemy
ranks and into the jaws of death, caring not a bit about anything.
This is what can be called the height of obedience and loyalty.
These are the five difficulties that can break a man's resolve
and put an end to his struggle. By giving the analogy of the horse
here, Allah, Most High, says: When faced with its master's command,
it cares not a bit for these difficulties; loyalty as well as obedience
to the master is its religion and its faith.
Allah, Most High explains further: Compare the gratitude and loyalty
of the horse to its nourisher with the ungratefulness of man who
does not gird himself up for the sake of his Master and Nourisher,
although the providence provided by the Lord to man is many times
greater than that provided by man to his horse, because the latter
is only an inferior, ordinary and deficient nurturing, whereas the
nurturing provided by Allah, Most High, is a perfect nurturing;
every particle of man stands in need of this nurturing every moment
of his life.
But no revolution can be brought about in the world until man takes
a lesson from the struggle of the horse. The fact is that man's
reins should be in the hands of his Master, the Nourisher of the
worlds, and whenever the Master gives the signal for the start of
the struggle, it should start with such zest that, though his mind
may feel anxiety over the struggle and it may repeatedly remind
him of the danger of death and destruction, nay, even his relatives
and friends may try to dissuade him from putting his life and honour
on the line, yet in the face of the command of his Master he should
not care a bit about such dangers, advice and misgivings, and should
continue his struggle despite all kinds of dangers and apprehensions.
Then, in whatever direction his Master points him, he should go
cheerfully, and if hardships and difficulties are encountered on
the way, he should be totally oblivious to these. The difficulties
should act as a spur for further increasing the intensity of the
struggle. He should continue to advance with such force and power,
trampling over the difficulties and ignoring the hardships, that
the on-looker, who thought that these difficulties would break the
feet of his struggle and put an end to them for good, should feel
the firmness of his steps of fortitude and the sparks of his fire
of faith, sparks that cannot be ignited without deep love and longing
for Allah, Most High. The observer should be able to see how a true
believer intensifies his struggle in the time of difficulties. Then,
in the face of his Master's commands, there should be no thought
as to whether the time is convenient or not. When the Master's command
comes, he should cast off all thoughts of his own ease and comfort
and all feelings of sleep and rest and should gear himself for action.
Although the time may be an inopportune one, however much the inconvenience
and hindrance offered by the circumstances, he should pass through
every darkness, and not get tired nor feel worn out before he finds
Again, he should have such faith in the nurturing power of the
Master that he should have no concern for the welfare of those he
left behind. Here, when the soldiers of ordinary temporal kings
get killed in battle, the government itself cares for the dependants
of the deceased and honours them by granting pensions and land grants.
So, for those who offer to sacrifice themselves while complying
with the commands of a King like Allah, Most High, to have any
misgivings and worries as to what would happen to their dependants
is to show a great deficiency of trust in Allah. Therefore, it is
essential that a true believer should have faith in the providential
power of his Lord and should sacrifice his all - wealth, life, time,
honour and reputation - in His Way, leaving behind such an unparalleled
example of selfless sacrifice, struggle and exertion that the coming
generations may take a lesson from the example that his struggle
has left behind. And, though he himself is not desirous of leaving
behind his example, yet the law of nature is such that, in the course
of time, it highlights the evidence of such a struggle.
As for the future, there should be no ambition for greatness or
fame or name or rulership and rank, or comfort and luxury, or luxurious
enjoyment. Nay, even if finally there is an order from the Master
to accept death, and instead of comfort and ease and benefit there
is an order to take on the burden of dangerous difficulties and
hardships, he should accept those cheerfully and should not at that
time begin to mutter, "What shall we gain after all this struggle?"
Because in this entire struggle he does not have any benefit for
his own self or person in view, but only obedience to his Lord is
his aim. In other words, he starts on the way after sacrificing
all he had and now in the end he sacrifices himself. This is the
ultimate in obedience and gratefulness to one's Lord. It was only
because the noble companions of the Holy Prophet (sas) transcended
all the stages of this struggle that they could have brought about
a revolution the like of which the world has never seen. Today,
we, too, cannot bring about a spiritual revolution in the world
until we pass through these five stages of struggle.
Allah, Most High warns: Ungrateful is he who shirks from going
through these five stages of struggle in obedience to his Lord's
commands. And He brings up an argument about this ungratefulness
7. And surely he is a witness of that.
8. And truly on account of the love of wealth he is niggardly.
What a lovely argument has been given. Says the Lord: "Let
no one bring up the excuse that the five stages of struggle that
Thou hast mentioned are beyond our capacity and capability, so please
do not burden us with work we cannot do."
He adds: This lover of wealth is quite used to covering these five
stages with great eagerness and relish for the sake of wealth. Give
him money, show him money or tempt him with wealth, and he will
at once bear the heaviest of burdens for its sake!
In short, he will bid farewell to all ease and comfort for the
sake of money, and will be quite prepared to do anything for it.
But why? Because he loves wealth and loves it intensely. That is
why he is always ready to make every sacrifice for its sake and
goes through the five stages of struggle with such eagerness and
relish as if he gets a feeling of ecstasy in the process of the
struggle itself. As long as the money keeps coming, a man will work
from dawn till dusk and again from dusk till dawn, and no fatigue
will slow him down. He does not care about eating, drinking and
sleeping, but to him these are of no consequence.
Anyway, what is the secret underlying the love for wealth and getting
enjoyment out of the struggle for it? It is nothing else but that
man knows that wealth supports him and fulfils his needs: that is
why it is so dear to him. So it stands proven that in reality it
is the nurturing power of wealth that has made it so beloved to
man. But a wise man can appreciate that the real Nurturer is Allah,
the Most High, and wealth is only one means of support. How often
it happens that wealth is there, yet a man's life is lost and his
honour destroyed. He may be rolling in wealth and enjoying all sorts
of lavish bounties, yet if he is a victim of diabetes or is suffering
from any other such illness, he cannot enjoy his luxuries. He may
possess wealth but has no offspring, or his most beloved family
member may die and thus his life becomes bitter. His wealth is still
there but he is powerless. A man's honour may be lost due to the
misdeeds of a family member or the misdemeanour of a relative. And
often a man, despite all his wealth and affluence, may not enjoy
the respect that is given even to a beggar.
In short, wealth cannot provide a comprehensive nurturing; it is
just one means out of many means of nurturing. Thus, the real source
of comprehensive nurturing is the Nourisher of the worlds Himself,
Whose nurturing is real and all-encompassing. So, how foolish it
is for one to go cheerfully through all the stages of struggle for
the sake of attaining a single means of nurturing, yet for going
through even one of those for the sake of the True Nurturer one
raises a lot of objections and offers numerous excuses!
Thus, the testimony of man against himself contained in the verse,
Verily he is a witness over it, is only this, that he loves
wealth, which is only one means of nourishment, and this love is
given to the deficient nurturing that one gets through wealth. Therefore,
there is no reason why one should not love the real Nurturer, Who
is a manifestation of all-embracing nurturing, more than one loves
wealth. If nurturing is to be the cause of love, then the love for
the real Nurturer should be far greater than love for wealth. And
whatever sacrifice is made for His sake, and whatever toil and struggle
one has to carry out in obedience to his Lord should be far more
than one does for wealth. Yet, on the contrary, if man has to perform
a struggle in obedience to his Lord, he starts to offer excuses
and arguments, although for the sake of wealth he is prepared to
bear everything. So, what can be said of him except that he is utterly
ungrateful to his Lord?
Allah, Most High, then admonishes man thus:
9. Knows he not when that which is in the graves is raised,
10. And that which is the breasts is made manifest?
11. Surely their Lord this day is Aware of them.
How well has it been put! Allah, Most High, says that the very
wealth, for the love of which a man bears such toil and hardship
and makes so many sacrifices, will remain behind in the world and
he himself will be put in a grave. After death, that wealth will
be of no avail. On the other hand, the life that comes after death
is a life that is real and eternal. On the Day of Resurrection,
all the secrets that lie buried in the graves will become manifest
and the intentions and resolutions that lie hidden in the breasts
or the hearts will also come to light. On that day, it will be realised
that the body for whose nurturing one had struggled so hard to acquire
wealth had become rotten in the grave, and the real thing that was
to endure was the thing that was in the breast, that is, the love
of Allah and the yearning for winning His pleasure and the effects
of deeds that leave an impression on the heart and are the building
blocks for the new life. On that day it will be realised how well
their Lord, to Whom they had been so ungrateful, was aware of their
intentions and the secrets of their hearts. On that day, no excuse,
no machination and no pretence will work with their Lord, because
no secret of the heart is hidden from Him. But certainly the veil
that covers a man's eyes today will be lifted on that day and the
manifestation of the glory of Allah's attribute, Al-Khabir (the
All-Knowing), will be so complete that every man will come to know
that no word or deed of his is hidden from this attribute of Allah.
That is why the judgement delivered by Allah, Most High, on that
day will be correct and perfect. The recompense for good and for
evil will be exactly according to the demands of justice, because
only perfect knowledge can deliver perfect justice.
Thus, the one with his heart full of love for money and the one
with his heart overflowing with the love of Allah will not be equal
on that day. Whosoever trusted in the nurturing power of wealth
and filled his heart with its love will discover that that wealth
will not be present there to provide nourishment on that day. However,
whosoever trusted in the beneficent providence of Allah, Most High,
and filled his heart with His love, will find that love visible
there on that day, and Allah's perfect nurturing will also be present
there, a nurturing that had been made beloved by Him, and without
which every life will become a source of torment on that day.
Look at the life of this world: people save money in the bank during
their working years so that it will come in handy in the latter
part of life, and if there is not enough savings they live in constant
fear of adversity. But however much this money may be, it remains
behind in this world because its deficient nurturing is only limited
to this world. After death, the money in the bank is of no avail.
But whosoever has his trust in the perfect nurturing power of Allah,
Most High, and in obedience to Him he saves the wealth of good deeds
in the treasury of the Lord, such wealth shall come in useful after
death. In other words, money is a means of nurturing, yet it is
a means of nurturing this body only, a body that shall meet annihilation
in the grave, and also its nurturing is limited to this world alone.
However, the good deeds that a man does in obedience to his Lord
and the struggle and sacrifices he makes are also means of nurturing,
but this nurturing is for that life of man which is at present hidden
in the breasts. But a day will come when these secrets will be exposed
and whatever is hidden in the breasts will come out. On that day,
this means of nurturing will be of great avail to man and will remain
with him forever, and will be the cause of his elevation to the
greatest heights in the Hereafter and his enjoying a life that is
real and eternal.
Remember, that just as a man has to go through the five above-mentioned
stages of struggle for bringing about a great revolution in the
world, similarly, he has to go through these very five stages of
struggle to bring about a great change in his inner self, and these
- To put one's person into great toil in obedience to Allah's
commands and despite the reluctance and excuses put up by one's
evil self, not to give up the compulsory duties like prayer, fasting,
pilgrimage, zakah (charity), and jihad (struggle)
with the Qur'an and with the sword; and not to dread any sacrifice
in showing affectionate concern for one's fellow-men.
- To disregard the difficulties of the journey, and whether in
sickness or in health, to advance and never turn back.
- To remain awake during a part of the night for worship and for
service to Allah's creatures, and even in the most testing moments,
never to abandon one's sublime principles.
- To display perfect trust in the nurturing power of Allah, Most
High, and not to worry unduly about one's dependants in times
when one is called upon to make sacrifices and show selflessness.
- Not to have as the goal of one's sacrifices the procurement
of indulgence and comfort, or name and fame, or prestige and authority,
but to be ready to accept death for attaining the pleasure of
the Lord and to accept it willingly, if need be, as a testimony
of one's sincerity, love, obedience and gratitude in the way of
The self of such a person then undergoes such a change that he
becomes heir to a new kind of life, and by getting annihilated in
the love of Allah, Most High, he, himself, becomes a beloved of