Tafsir Zone - Surah 86: at-Tariq (The Night-Comer )

Tafsir Zone

Surah at-Tariq 86:0

Overview (Verses 1 - 4)

A Special Type of Visitor
“By the heaven and by the night visitor. Would that you knew what the night visitor is! It is the star that pierces through darkness. For every soul there is a guardian who watches over it.” (Verses 1-4) This oath includes a scene of the universe and a fact of faith. It opens by mentioning heaven and the night visitor and follows with a form of exclamation made familiar in the Qur’an; “Would that you knew what the night visitor is!’ (Verse 2) This exclamation gives the impression that it is mysterious, beyond explanation.
The Qur’an then states its nature and form: “It is the star that pierces through darkness.” (Verse 3) Its powerful, penetrating rays travel at speed through the surrounding darkness. The description applies to all stars. There is no need to attach it to a particular one. Generality is more useful in this kind of context. Thus, the meaning sounds as follows: By heaven and its stars which pierce darkness and penetrate through that veil covering all things. Thus, this reference sheds its own light on the facts outlined in this surah and the scenes it portrays.
God swears by heaven and its piercing stars that every soul has an observer appointed by Him to watch over it: “For every soul there is a guardian who watches over it.” (Verse 4) This implies a strong assertion that there is an agent appointed by God to watch over every soul and keep a record of its actions and thoughts. The watch is over the soul because it is there that thoughts and secrets which are responsible for action and reward lie. Thus, people are not left to roam about the earth as they wish. On the contrary, an accurate and immediate record is kept, on the basis of which reckoning is made.
This awesome inference becomes clear as the soul feels that it is never alone even when without company. There is always the watcher who remains nearby even when one hides from all and is secure against any visitor or intruder. There is still the watcher who penetrates all covers and has access to all things concealed, in the same way as the piercing star tears through the night cover. For God’s method of creation is the same with regard to human souls and the wide horizons.