Sura Nabaa (The Great News) No. 78 (Verses 38-40)




38.The Day on which the Spirit and the angels shall stand arrayed, they shall speak not except whom the All-merciful gives leave, and (who) speaks what is right.

39 That Day is certain; whoever then desires may take refuge with his Lord.

40. Surely We have warned you of a Punishment near, the Day when man shall see what his two hands have sent forth and the Unbeliever shall say: O! would that I were dust'.


The Unbeliever shall say: "0' would that I were dust".

A noticeable part of the chastisement for the transgressors and the reward for the Righteous on Dooms Day, were mentioned in the previous verses.

Verses 38 to 40 introduce That Great Day', and expound on some of its events, by saying: 'The Day on which the Spirit and the angels shall stand arrayed, they shall speak not except whom the All-merciful gives leave, and (who) speaks what is right.

Undoubtedly, the act of the Spirit and the angels on that Day ; 'to stand arrayed and speak not except those whom the All-merciful gives leave', is only because of their obedience to Him. In this world, too, they fulfill His Will and serve His commands. Of course, their fulfillment, in that world, will be more apparent, more clear and more extensive.

What does the Spirit' mean, here? Commentators have yielded several interpretations for it, some of which, extend to eight probabilities. The following meanings are the most important ones: (1)

1. 'The Spirit' is a creature other than the angels and greater than all of them.

2.'The Spirit' is the angel Gabriel who is the greatest angel because he is charged, especially, with bringing Messages from Allah to the human Apostles.

3. 'The Spirit' may be the souls of men, collectively, that rise with the angels.

4. 'The Spirit' is an angel of the highest standard, higher than all angels, and greater than Gabriel. It is the very angel who was with all prophets and the sinless Imams (P.B.U.H. Th.) and remains so.

It is noteworthy that, in the Qur'an, 'the Spirit' is sometimes simply mentioned alone and without any definition. In this case, it is often equivalent to the angels, as in this verse: The angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him..., (Sura Maarij, No 70.verse 4) .

Or; The angels and the Spirit descend therein by their Lord's leave for every affair (Sura Qadr, No. 97. verse 4) .

In these two verses, 'the Spirit' is mentioned after '1he angels', and in the current verse it is mentioned before 'the angels', therefore, it may indicate the greatness of a distinguished one.

But in many verses of the Qur'an 'the Spirit' is mentioned with something else or with a specification. For example, /ruh-ul-qudus/ 'Holy Spirit' in Sura Nahl, No. 16, verse 102 says: Say, The Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth..., or /ruh-ul-amin/ 'the Spirit of Faith and Truth' in Sura Shuraa, No. 26, verse 193 says: With it came down the Spirit of Faith and Truth'.

(1) Qartabi, The Commentary, vol. 10. p. 6977.

In some verses Allah designates the word 'Spirit' for Himself as in the following: ...and breathed into him of My Spirit..., (Sura Al-Hijr, No. 15 Verse 29) . And in another verse it says: ...Then We sent to her Our Spirit...,(Sura Maryam, No. 19, verse 17) .

It seems that the term 'Spirit', which is stated differently in these verses, may have different meanings whose explanations are stated, appropriately, under each of them in the commentary.

But, among these various commentaries, what seems the most fitting, to the current verse, is that 'the Spirit' , here, refers to one of the great angels of Allah that, according to some narrations, is even higher than Gabriel, as a tradition from Imam Sadiq (p.b.u.h.) says: He is on angel geenter than Gabriel and Michael.(1)

And, it is cited in Ali-ibn-Thrahim's commentary that: 'The Spirit' is an angel, greater than Gabriel and Michael, and he was with the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as well as with the Imams.(2)

Although in some narrations quoting Ahiul-Bait, it is cited that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said: The Spirit is an army from Allah's armies, who are not angels and have a head, hands and feet and, then, he (p.b.u.h.) recited: The Day on which the Spirit and the angels shall stand arrayed, and said: " These are an army and those are of another army. (3)

In any case, as it was pointed out earlier, the great creature of Allah whether it be among the angels or is another kind of creature, will be with the angels in the Hereafter; all of them ready to obey Allah command.

In the Hereafter, everyone is so terrified that no one is able to say a word or offer intercession except by Allah's leave. They praise Him, or intercede, as He permits, only for those who are deserving.

It is cited, in a narration, that once Imam Sadiq (p.b.u.h.) was asked about this verse and he said: ,By Allah, on the Day of Judgement, we will be given leave for them and we will speak.

The narrator asked him (p.b.u.h.) what he would say on that Day, and he answered: We praise our Lord, and send blessings on our Prophet,

(1) Majma'-al-Bayan vol.10, p! 427.

(2) Tafsir-i-Ali-ibn-Ibrahim, vol.2, p.402.

(3) Durrual-Manthur, vol.6, p. 309.

and intercede for our followers and our Lord does not refuse us'.(1)

It is understood from this narration that on the Day of Judgemcnt the Prophets and the sinless Imams will be in the row of angels and 'the Spirit' who will be given leave to speak will praise Allah and intercede.

The term /sawab/ 'what is right' is an evidence that angels the Spirit, prophets, and Saints will intercede for those who are deserving and their intercession will not be undue.

Then, it points to that Great Day which is the Day of resurrection for both men and angels, as well as The Day of Judgement for the transgressors, where they will be given their recompense and the Righteous will be rewarded, and it says: That Day is certain.

The term /haqq/ means: 'a thing that surely happens' and 'that which is right and proper, just and true'. This meaning is completely right for the Dooms Day, where the rights of everyone will be given to him; the oppressed's rights will be taken from the oppressors, the 'rights' and 'the hidden secrets' will be manifested, and hence, it will be 'right' in all respects.

Since recognition of this fact can he the most effective motive for men to move towards the path of Allah and obeying him, then immediately after the previous sentence. in this verse, it says: "...whoever then desires may take refi!ge with his Lord.

That is, all the means of this divine motion are prepared: right and wrong have been introduced; prophets have said enough about the Truth and Divine Reality; wisdom, which is an inner apostle, has clearly defined the end of the transgressors and the Righteous, and the court, the Judge, and the Judgement have been known. The only remaining thing is Man's firm decision that should be made with free-will; which Allah has bestowed on him, to go forth on the right path.

The term /ma'ab/ means 'a place of return' and it is also cited with the sense of 'road' and 'way' .

Then, as an emphasis on the sinners' punishment, and as a warning to those who think that the Great Day is very far from them or
(1) Majma'-al-Bayan vol. 10, p. 427.

it is on credit, stating that it is very near it says: Surdy We have warned you of a punishment near...

The life of this world, however long it may be, is as a mere moment in comparison with the life of the Next World. According to an Arab proverb: 'Everything that is certain to come, is near' . Then, for the same reason, Allah, in Sura Ma'arij, No. 70, vcrscs 5-7 tells His prophet: Therefore do thou hold patience, a patience of beautiful (contentment) '. They see the (Day) indeed as a far-off (event) : But We see it (quite) near .

Amir-al-Momineen Ali (p.b.u.h.) , also in this regard, says: Whatever is certain to come, iv near.(1)

It is near because the main source of men's divine chastisement is their own deeds, which are always with them as we see from Sura Ankabut, No. 29. verse 54: ...and most surely hell encompasses the unbelievers.

Since on that Day a great number of people, being full of grief and sorrow, will be regretful of their actions, which, then, of course, will be quite useless. Following that warning, it says: ...the Day when man shall see what his two hands have sent forth, and the Unbeliever shall say: O! would that I were dust'.

Some commentators have considered the term /yanzur/ in the same sense of /yantazir/, that is: 'on that Day, men will wait for the recompense of their deeds' .

And some others have considered it to mean: 'looking at the Record and observing the good and evil actions' .

And it has also been construed as meaning: 'to see the reward and the penalty of the deeds' .

These commentaries originate from the idea that they have paid little attention to the existence of the embodiment of Man's deed, on that Day, otherwise, the meaning of the verse is clear and no interpretation would be needed.

From the different verses of the Qur'an and Islamic narrations, it is understood that on that Day the deeds of Man will be personified in
(1) Nahj-ul-Balaqa, Sermon No. 103 (Arabic Version) . Sermon No 106, (English Version) .

some appropriate forms and will appear in front of him. In fact, he will truly see his own deeds, himself, and when he observes his evil actions he will be both sorry and regretful, and when he observes his good actions he will be happy and delighted. As a matter of fact, one of the best rewards for the Righteous, and one of the worst punishments for the evildoers is the very personification and incarnation of their deeds, which will follow them everywhere.

a Kahf, Mo. 18, verse 49 says: ...they will find all that they did, placed before them... . And Sura Zilzal, No. 99, verses 7-8 say: So, whoever has done an atom's weight of good shall behold it. And whoever has done an atom's weight of evil shall behold it.

So, these are some of the wonders of the Hereafter that the deeds of Man will be personified and the powers will be changed into a tangible substance and become a living thing.

The sentence /maqaddamat yadahu/ 'what his two hands have sent forth', is so stated because, Man usually does most of his actions with his hands, but, surely they are not limited only to those actions which are performed by the hands. The actions which are done by the tongue, eyes, and ears are included, too.

Verse 40, of this Sura, has warned us about the matter before we reach that Day and it says: ..And let every soul look at what (provison) he has sent forth for the morrow. .

When the disbelievers see the deeds of their lifetime in front of them, they will be so sorry that they will say: 'O! would that I were dust' , and from it would never have been created as a human being.

Of course, they know that dust is better than themselves, because dust is not only harmless but also useful for all: it takes a single grain and makes a return of sometimes more than one hundred plants, instead. But humans have been the source of corruption in different forms.

In some verses of the Qur'an it is said that when the Unbelievers and the sinners see the Hereafter and the throne of Divine Judgement, therein, and the recompense of their deeds, they will react differently, all of which relates to the intensive grief they have.

Sometimes, they say: ...Ah! woe is me! in that I neglected (my duty) towards Allah.

And sometimes they say: Now then send us back (to the world) : we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe.

And further still they say: Would that I were dust! , which was discussed in the current Sura.

The Clear Solution for Fatalism and Free-will:

This controversy is one of the oldest cases which has been discussed among the scholars, some of whom believed in Man's free-will and some in another philosophy; each have stated some reasons to prove their ideas.

It is interesting to note that the fatalists and those adherents to the idea of 'free-will' have both approved the principle of free-will, in practice and have accepted it. In other words, their scientific conflicts are bound only to the circle of their discussions and not in practice. This clearly shows that the principle of free-will exists in the nature of all men, and by refusing the various temptations, everyone agrees with the principle of free-will.

One of the most clear evidences to free-will is the common conscience or the general nature of men that appears in Man's life in different forms. Since, if Man thought that deeds were obligations and did not believe in free-will, then why:

1. Do they sometimes repent of their behaviour, for what they have done, or the actions they have not done, and decide to take benefit from their former experiences in their future conduct?

2. Condemn the evildoers. If they are obliged why are they scorned?

3. Are the good doers praised?

4. Do people try to train their children, so that they can gain felicity and be happy. If all are obliged, what is the use of training?

5. Do all the scientists, without exception, try to increase the standard of morals in societies? Why?

6. Does Man repent of his errors? If the principle of fatalism is accepted, what does 'penitence' mean?

7. Does Man become sorry about his negligences in carrying out his duties? Why?

8. Are criminals and evildoers, all over the world, strictly interrogated and tried in courts? The action beyond the limit of Man's Will does not need interrogation and trial.

9. Throughout the world and among all sects, whether they are polytheist or materialist, do they believe in punishment for criminals? Then is it a penalty for the deed that they were obliged to do?

10. Do even the fatalists, when their intcrests and honour is violated by someone, protest and call him as an offender in the court?

In short, truly, if Man is not free in Will, then why should he have feelings of regret?

What is blame and scorn? Can a person whose hand is trembling, unwillingly, be blamed?

Why are the good doers praised? Do they have a free will of their own to continue doing good?

In fact, when the effect of training and education is accepted, fatalism will be meaningless.

Besides, morals, without assuming free-will, have no sense at all. If we are obliged to do things, what is the meaning of repentance?

What is regreting for? Then, the trial of an obliged person is the most cruel thing, and punishing him is worse than that.

All these point to the fact that the principle of free-will' is in human nature and it fits in with the general conscience of mankind. Not only the common people, but also all special classes and all philosophers are like that in their deeds, and then, even fatalists are actually free in Will.

It is an interesting fact that the Qur'an has frequently emphasized on this situation. It says: ...whoever then desires may take refuge with his Lord. Not only in these verses, but also in many other verses of the Qur'an, stress has bee. put on Man's Will, however, to discuss this here, will deviate us from our topic of discussion, so, suffice it to mention only three of them, thus:

Surely We guided him to the way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (is up to him) (Sura Insan, No. 76, verse 3) .

Let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject (it) , (Sura Kahf, No. 18, verse 29) .

"Surely this is an admonishment, that whosoever will, (taking this straight way) may choose a path unto his Lord, (Sura Insan, No. 76, verse 29) .

Discussing fatalism and free-will is very time consuming and many books dnd articles have been written about these subjects. What we havc mentioned, here, was only a small sample on the subject, from the point of view of the Qur'an and the conscience, which we will end on thiN important point:

The adherence to fatalism, from the view of some men, is not only for the philosophical discussions and the reasoning out of problems, but it is for some other important psychological and social matters, as well, which are undoubtedly factors in its appearance and continued popularity.

Many persons have assumed that the belief in 'fatalism' or 'fatal destiny' or 'Fate' in the sense of fatalism, have a common source: to escape from personal responsibility, or to use it as a cover-up for the defeats and failures resulting from their negligence and carelessness, and/or due to their low desires.

Sometimes, colonizers, to break the perseverance of people and to extinguish the nation's fire of wrath, imposed this idea on them saying that their fate has been the same from the bcginning, so, they can do nothing, but accept it.

Assuming that this belief is correct the whole behaviour of all criminals is permissible and the vice of all sinners becomes excused, then, there will be no difference between an obedient person and a criminal.


O Lord! Protect us from these misled ideas and their consequences.
O Lord! On the Day that Hell lies in ambush for the transgressors and Heaven is a victory for the Righteous, we all have hope in your Grace.
O Lord! On the Day when all see their deeds in front of them, do not put us to shame.

The End of Sura Nabaa (The Great News)