Overview - Surah 88: al-Ghashiya (The Overwhelming )

Surah Introduction

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The Surah talks about the coming calamity that will cover everything.  Humanity will be divided into two groups: the frightened, tired and exhausted group, and the joyful and happy group.  The Prophet is told to remind people. His mission is to remind only, not to impose the message. Allah will make the final judgment.

The Surah takes its name from the first Ayat, هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ "Has there reached you the report of the Overwhelming [event]?" [88:1].

There are 26 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat26
Total Words *92
Root Words *53
Unique Root Words *1
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 68th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation*
Events during/before this Surah*
Events during/after still to occur*
Names of Prophets Mentioned
No Prophets names are mentioned in this Surah
Surah Index
Earth, Hell, Knowledge (obligation upon man to obtain and impart) , Mountains, Resurrection (Day) , Sky, Thamud, Thamud (rock dwellings) , Water

Central Theme

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To understand the subject matter well one should keep in view the fact that in the initial stage the preaching of the Prophet mostly centred around two points which he wanted to instil in the people’s minds: Monotheism (Tawhid) and the Hereafter: and the people of Makkah were repudiating both. Let us now consider the subject matter and the style of this Surah.  At the outset, in order to arouse the people from their heedlessness, they have been plainly asked: “Do you have any knowledge of the time when an overwhelming calamity will descend?” Immediately after this details of the impending calamity are given as to how the people will be divided into two separate groups and will meet separate ends. One group of the people will go to Hell and they will suffer punishment; the second group will go to the sublime Paradise and will be provided with blessings.

After thus arousing the people, the theme suddenly changes and the question is asked: Do not these people, who frown and scorn the teaching of Monotheism and the news of the Hereafter being given by the Qur’an, observe the common things which they experience daily in their lives? Do they never consider how the camels, on whom their whole life activity in the Arabian desert depends, came into being, endowed precisely with the same characteristics as were required for the beast needed in their desert life? When they go on their journeys, they see the sky, the mountains, or the earth. Let them ponder over these three phenomena and consider as to how the sky was stretched above them, how the mountains were erected and how the earth was spread beneath them? Has all this come about without the skill and craftsmanship of an All-Powerful, All Wise Designer? If they acknowledge that a Creator has created all this with great wisdom and power and that no one else is an associate with Him in their creation, why then do they refuse to accept Him alone as their Lord and Sustainer? And if they acknowledge that God had the power to create all this, then on what rational ground do they hesitate to acknowledge that God also has the power to bring about Resurrection, to recreate man, and to make Hell and Heaven? After making the truth plain by this concise and rational argument, the address turns from the disbelievers to the Prophet and he is told: “If these people do not acknowledge the truth, they may not; you have not been empowered to act with authority over them, so that you should coerce them into believing: your only task is to exhort, so exhort them. Ultimately they have to return to Us; then We shall call them to full account and shall inflict a heavy punishment on those who do not believe.”

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 Virtues of the Surah

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  • The Prophet would recite this Surah in the second Rakah of Eid and Jummah prayer. [Sahih Muslim]

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) = 1*

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

1 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah *

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
in Qur'an
إِلَىٰ 5 742
ك ي ف 4 83
و ج ه 2 78
ن ص ب 2 32
ع ي ن 2 65
ل ي س 2 89
إِلَّا 2 663
ر ف ع 2 29
ذ ك ر 2 292
ع ذ ب 2 373

Period of Revelation

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The whole subject matter of the Surah indicates that this too is one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed; but this was the period when the Prophet had started preaching his message publicly, and the people of Makkah were hearing it and ignoring it carelessly and thoughtlessly.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  •  أَنَّهُ قَالَ صَلَّى مُعَاذُ بْنُ جَبَلٍ الأَنْصَارِيُّ لأَصْحَابِهِ الْعِشَاءَ فَطَوَّلَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَانْصَرَفَ رَجُلٌ مِنَّا فَصَلَّى فَأُخْبِرَ مُعَاذٌ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ مُنَافِقٌ ‏.‏ فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ ذَلِكَ الرَّجُلَ دَخَلَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَخْبَرَهُ مَا قَالَ مُعَاذٌ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ "‏ أَتُرِيدُ أَنْ تَكُونَ فَتَّانًا يَا مُعَاذُ إِذَا أَمَمْتَ النَّاسَ فَاقْرَأْ بِالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا ‏.‏ وَسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى ‏.‏ وَاقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ ‏.‏ وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى

    'Mu'adh b. Jabal al-Ansari led his companions in the night prayer and prolonged it for them. A person amongst us said prayer (after having separated himself from the congregation). Mu'adh was informed of this, and he remarked that he was a hypocrite. When it (the remark) was conveyed to the man, he went to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and informed him of what Mu'adh had said. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to him: Mu'adh, do you want to become a person putting (people) to trial? When you lead people in prayer, recite:" By the Sun and its morning brightness" (Surat ash-Shams)," Glorify the name of thy most high Lord" (Surat al-A`la) and" Read in the name of Lord" (Surat al-`Alaq), and" By the night when it spreads" (Surat al-Lail). ٍSahih Muslim 


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  • The condition of the disbelievers and the believers on the Day of Judgement.
  • The wonders of nature, admonition and accountability.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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