Overview - Surah 78: an-Naba' (The News )

Surah Introduction

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The Surah gives an important news or message.  It tells us that the Day of Decision is coming. This beautiful and orderly universe is pointing to the Day of Decision. Allah will bring all people to judgment.  The wicked will be thrown in the hell and the righteous will receive their reward from Allah.

This Surah takes its name from the second Ayat, عَنِ النَّبَإِ الْعَظِيمِ "About the great news -" [78:2].

There are 40 Ayat in this Surah. 

Overview

Total Ayat40
Total Words *173
Root Words *104
Unique Root Words *0
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 80th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation*
Events during/before this Surah*
N/A
Events during/after still to occur*
N/A
Names of Prophets Mentioned
No Prophets names are mentioned in this Surah
Surah Index
Angels, Astronomy (celestial mechanics) (sun), Earth, Earth (condition of at the time of resurrection) , Gabriel, Heaven (several) , Hell, Humankind (created in pairs) , Judgement (Day) , Judgement (Day) (vanish), Judgement (Day) (flung open), Mountains, Record of personal deeds, Religion (divergence of opinion) , Resurrection (Day) , Weather (rain) , Weather (wind)

Central Theme

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Its theme also is the same as of Surah Surah 77: al-Mursalat, i.e. to affirm the Resurrection and Hereafter, and to warn the people of the consequences of acknowledging or disacknowledging it. When the Prophet (saw) first started to preach Islam in Makkah, his message consisted of three elements:

1. That none be held as an associate with God in His Lordship;
2. That God had appointed him as His Messenger; and
3. That this world will come to an end one day and then another world will be established when all the former and the latter generations will be resurrected with the same bodies in which they lived and worked in the world; then they will be called to account for their beliefs and deeds and those who emerge as believing and righteous in this accountability will go to Paradise and those who are proved to be disbelieving and wicked will live in Hell for ever.

Of these, although the first, was highly unpleasant for the people of Makkah, yet in any case they were not disbelievers in the existence of God. They believed in His Being the Supreme Sustainer, Creator and Providence and also admitted that all those beings whom they regarded as their deities, were themselves God’s creatures. Therefore, in this regard the only thing they disputed was whether they had any share in the attributes and powers of Divinity and in the Divine Being itself or not. As for the second, the people of Makkah were not prepared to accept it. However, what they could not possibly deny was that during the 40 years life that the Prophet had lived among them before his claim to Prophethood, they had never found him a lying deceitful person or the one who would adopt unlawful methods for selfish ends. They themselves admitted that he was a man possessed of wisdom, righteousness and moral superiority. Therefore, in spite of charging him with a thousand false accusations, to say nothing of making others believe, they were finding it difficult even for themselves to believe that although he was an honest and upright man in every other affair and dealing of life, yet, God forbid, a liar only in his claim to be a Prophet.

The third, when this was presented before them, they mocked it most of all, expressed unusual wonder at it, and regarding it as remote from reason and impossible, started talking against it as incredible, even inconceivable, in their assemblies. But in order to bring them to the way of Islam it was absolutely essential that the doctrine of the Hereafter should be instilled into their minds, for without belief in this doctrine, it was not at all possible that they could adopt a serious attitude with regard to the truth and falsehood, could change their standard of values in respect of good and evil, and giving up worship of the world, could be inclined to follow the way that Islam urged them to follow. That is why in the earliest Surahs revealed at Makkah the doctrine of the Hereafter has been stressed more than anything else. However, the arguments for it have been given in such a way that the doctrine of the Monotheism (Tawhid) also is impressed on the minds automatically. This also contains brief arguments, here and there, to confirm the truth of the Holy Messenger of God and the Qur’an.

After understanding why the theme of the Hereafter has been so frequently repeated in the Surahs of this period, let us now have a look at the subject matter of this Surah. In it first of all, allusion has been made to the common talk and the doubts that were being expressed in every street of Makkah and in every assembly of the people of Makkah on hearing the news about Resurrection. Then, the deniers have been asked: “Don’t you see this earth which We have spread as a carpet for you? Don’t you see the high mountains which we have so firmly placed in the earth? Don’t you consider your own selves how We have created you as pairs of men and women? Don’t you consider your sleep by which We make you seek a few hours rest after every few hours labour and toil so as to keep you fit for work in the world? Don’t you see the alternation of the night and day which We are so regularly perpetuating precisely according to your needs and requirements? Don’t you see the strongly fortified system of the heavens above you? Don’t you see the sun by means of which you are receiving your light and heat? Don’t you see the rains which fall from the clouds and help produce corn and vegetables and lavish gardens? Do these things only tell you that the power of the Almighty Being Who has created them, will be unable to bring about Resurrection and establish the Next World? Then, from the supreme wisdom which is clearly working in this world around you, do you only understand this that although each part of it and each function of it is purposive, yet life is meaningless? Nothing could be more absurd and meaningless that after appointing man to the office of foreman and granting him vast powers of appropriation, when he leaves the world after fulfilling his role, he should be let off without any accountability. He should neither be rewarded and granted pension on satisfactory work, nor subjected to any accountability and punishment on unsatisfactory performance of duty.

After giving these arguments it has been emphatically stated that the Day of Judgment shall certainly come to pass on its appointed time. No sooner is the Trumpet sounded that whatever is being foretold shall appear before the eyes, and whether you believe in it today, or not, at that time you will come out in your multitudes from wherever you would be lying dead and buried to render your account. Your denial cannot in any way avert this inevitable event. Then, in v. 21-30; it has been stated that every single misdeed of those who do not expect any accountability to take place and have thus belied Our Revelations, lies reckoned and recorded with Us, and Hell is ever lying an ambush to punish them and punish them fully for all their doings. Then, in v. 31-36, the best rewards of those who lived as responsible people in the world and have provided for their Hereafter beforehand have been mentioned. They have been reassured that they will not only be rewarded richly for their services but in addition they will also be given sufficient gifts.

In conclusion, the Divine Court in the Hereafter has been depicted, making it plain that there will be no question of somebody’s being adamant in the matter of getting his followers and associates forgiven, none will speak without leave, and leave will be granted on the condition that intercession be made only for the one to whom leave of intercession will have been given, and the intercessor will say only what is right. Moreover, leave for intercession will be given only for those who had acknowledged the Truth in the world but were sinners; rebels of God and rejecters of the Truth will deserve no intercession at all. The discourse has been concluded with this warning: The Day the coming of which is being foretold, shall certainly come to pass. Do not think it is yet far off, it is close at hand. Now, whoever wills, let him believe in it and take the way towards his Lord. But he who disbelieves, in spite of the warning, “will have all his deeds placed before him: and he will exclaim regretfully: “Oh, would that I were not born in the world!” At that time, his regrets will be about the same world of which he is so enamoured today!

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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The Surah that precedes Surah An-Naba’ is Surah Mursalat. When we read this surah one Ayat is repeated ten times, وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِلْمُكَذِّبِينَ "Woe, that Day, to the deniers.". In this surah (Naba) it seems as though Allah is responding to the deniers of the Day of Judgment, by saying in this Surah,  كَلَّا سَيَعْلَمُونَ "No! They will come to know." They will know the reality of what they where lying about. This in response to the verse that is being repeated in Surah Mursalat.

Also in Surah Mursalat Allah says وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا يَوْمُ الْفَصْلِ "And what can make you know what is the Day of FASL (separation)?" but Allah does not tell us what this Day of FASL (separation) is and rather  answers this question in Surah Naba’ إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ كَانَ مِيقَاتًا "Indeed, the Day of FASL is an appointed time."

In Surah Mursalat, we (mentioned) find two groups of people. One group is the people of Taqwa إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي ظِلَالٍ وَعُيُونٍ the other are the مُكَذِّبِينَ the deniers. And we find the same two groups in Surah An-Naba.

It is as if Surah An-Naba is explaining in detail what was mentioned in Surah Mursalat.

The Virtues of the Surah

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  • Surah an-Naba [78] is one of the Surahs that aged the Prophet (saw) due to inensity/pressure/repurcussions of the implications of the words.  

     قَالَ أَبُو بَكْرٍ‏:‏ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، قَدْ شِبْتَ، قَالَ‏:‏ شَيَّبَتْنِي هُودٌ، وَالْوَاقِعَةُ، وَالْمُرْسَلاتُ، وَعَمَّ يَتَسَاءَلُونَ، وَإِذَا الشَّمْسُ كُوِّرَتْ

    It has been reported that once Abu Bakr  said to the Prophet (saw), ‘O Messenger of Allah, you have become old.’ The Prophet (saw) said, ‘I have become old [due to] [Surah] Hud, al-Waqiah [56], al-Murasalat [77], Amma yatasailoon [an-Naba 78] and Waidha ash-Shamsu kuwirat [at-Takweer 81].” Tirmidhee no. 3297

Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Period of Revelation

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The themes of all the Surahs, from Surah 75: al-Qiyamah (The Resurrection) to Surah 79: an-Nazi’at (The Extractors), closely resemble one another and all these seem to have been revealed in the earliest period at Makkah.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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Lessons/Guidance/Major-Issues/Reflections

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  • Creation of the heavens, earth, mountains and vegetation clearly points out towards the Day of Judgement.
  • Resurrection and man's accountability in the court of Allah.
  • The righteous will be well pleased, while the disbelievers will be put in hell where they will be treated with scalding water and decaying filth.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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Scientific References

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الْأَرْضَ مِهَادًا وَالْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا "“Have We not made the earth a resting place? And the mountains as stakes (pegs)?” (78:6-7)

The Qur’ān on Mountains

The book entitled ‘Earth’ is a basic reference textbook in many universities around the world.  One of its two authors is Professor Emeritus Frank Press.  He was the Science Advisor to former US President Jimmy Carter, and for 12 years was the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC. His book says that mountains have underlying roots.  These roots are deeply embedded in the ground, thus, mountains have a shape like a peg. Modern earth sciences have proven that mountains have deep roots under the surface of the ground [see Figure 6] and that these roots can reach several times their elevations above the surface of the ground.  So the most suitable word to describe mountains on the basis of this information is the word ‘peg,’ since most of a properly set peg is hidden under the surface of the ground.  The history of science tells us that the theory of mountains having deep roots was introduced only in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Mountains also play an important role in stabilising the crust of the earth.  They hinder the shaking of the earth.  God has said in the Qur’ān:

وَأَلْقَى فِي الأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَأَنْهَارًا وَسُبُلاً لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ  “And He has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it shift with you, and [made] rivers and roads, that you may be guided.” (16:15)

Likewise, the modern theory of plate tectonics holds that mountains work as stabilisers for the earth. This knowledge about the role of mountains as stabilisers for the earth has just begun to be understood in the framework of plate tectonics since the late 1960’s.