This is post #31 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).
As per the poll on our twitter account, there was consensus on their being a post on grammatical analysis of Surah Qaari’ah. So here you go insha’Allah.
Standard Disclaimer: I am not an Arab (as in, fluent in Arabic) nor have I double-checked this in books of ‘ulama discussing grammar; there is sometimes difference of opinion in grammar, as well; so take it as such insha’Allah.
Let’s go word-by-word insha’Allah.
- Al-Qaari’ah (الْقَارِعَةُ): (verse 1) Notice that it ends with ta-marbuwta, the little funny face-like letter. This means that if you stop on that letter, it’s pronounced as a haa; and if you keep going, it’s pronounced as a taa. So you can say “Al-Qaari’ah” or “Al-Qaariatu … [continuing on].” I know in Indo-Pak lands, they always pronounce it as a ta; but that’s not correct.
- Wa Maa Adaraaka Maa Al-Qaari’ah (وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْقَارِعَةُ): (verse 3) This phrase occurs often enough in the Qur’an; let’s dissect it more insha’Allah.
- Wa (وَ): And. Shortest word in the Arabic language!
- Maa (مَا): Maa can have lots of meanings. Here, it’s ismu-istifhaam, aka the interrogative particle, aka the question-mark. In English, we put a question-mark at the end of a sentence; in Arabic, we use maa, or a (أ), or hal (هَل).
- Adraaka (أَدْرَاكَ): Adraa is a verb; the maf’ool (recipient of the verb) is “ka,” which means “you” (singular, second-person, masculine). Even though it’s masculine, in Arabic, if you don’t know the person you’re speaking to, you can refer to them in the masculine gender, singular or plural. (Plural is more respectful.)
- Maa (مَا): The second maa in this phrase is also ismu-istifhaam (the question-mark); if we just chopped the phrase before this word, we would get: maa Al-Qaariah? What is Al-Qaari’ah?
- Yawma (يَوْمَ): Yawmun means “a day.” Al-Yawm, means the day. Yawma is definite (with single tanween–yawma, not yawman) but it eludes me why it’s definite and mansoob (with fatha). It looks like it might be mudaaf, but where’s the mudaaf ilayh?
- Yakuwnu (يَكُونُ): (verse 4) Yakuwnu is the third-person, singular, masculine, present-tense form of kaana. Kaana means “he was,” and yakuwnu is “he is.” What does it refer to? See the next word.
- An-Naas (النَّاسُ): An-Naas is an interesting word. It’s a singular word, but refers to a plural (humankind); some scholars say it comes from the root nasiya/yansaa, to forget–because human nature is to forget. Here, it’s marfoo’ (with dumma: an-naasu) so we know it’s the faa’il (doer) of yakuwnu. By the way, this is the norm in Arabic–to put the verb before the doer, unlike in English.
- Ka (كَ): Not “you,” but ka here is the particle of comparison–you can translate it as “is like” or “as like (the example of)” or something similar. The thing that it’s comparing to (eg. the “you” in “like you”) is always majroor (with kasra).
- Al-Faraash (الْفَرَاشِ): Faraash means moths–those butterfly-like beings; see the picture at the top of the post. We know it’s the thing that An-Naas is compared to, because it’s majroor (with kasra).
- Al-Mabthooth (الْمَبْثُوثِ): Scattered. Notice it has the same a) number, b) gender, c) case (kasra) and d) definitivity (alif-lam) as Al-Faraashi; this marks it as an adjective. Again, unlike English, in Arabic, the adjective comes after the word it describes.
- Takuwnu (تَكُونُ): (verse 5) In Arabic, the mudaari’ (present-tense verb) has the same form for “you” (masculine singular 2nd-person) and “she” (feminine singular 3rd-person). That form is–you guessed it–takuwnu. How do you know what it refers to? By the context, of course–this is why Arabs (as in, those fluent in Arabic) must constantly apply their brains when reading, writing, speaking, and listening in (Classical/Fushaa) Arabic. It’s not like English!
- Al-Jibaalu (الْجِبَالُ): That was easy. Al-Jibaal is the plural of jabal (mountain). It’s marfoo’, and it’s obviously the faa’il (because it’s marfoo’ with damma). But wait a minute–we said takuwnu is for she and you. But Al-Jibaal is neither–it’s a masculine plural! What’s going on? The answer is, Arabic treats the non-human plural as feminine singular. Read all about it at Arabic Tree (if you’re interested). It’s complicated, I know. That’s why Al-Jibaal works with takuwnu.
- Ka Al-‘ahni Al-Manfooshi: Same structure as ka al-faraashi al-mabthooth.
- Fa (فَ): Fa has a couple of meanings that I know of; one is to indicate something that happens immediately after something else; the other meaning is the one used here–to section out a group into sections. Eg. if you have two people, Muhammad and Musa, you can say “fa Muhammad, he is a doctor; and fa Musa, he is a teacher.” Translated usually as “as for.” The rest of this verse gives you the section–the one who is heavy in deeds.
- Man (مَن): Who. It’s ismu-istifhaam (question-mark–eg. “who are you?”) but not here. Man, since it means “who,” can also mean “anyone” or “the person who.”
- Thaqulat (ثَقُلَتْ): Heavy. The commonly-used form is thaqeel.
- Mawaaziynu (مَوَازِينُ): Mawaaziyn is the plural of mizaan. Mizaan is like a weighing scale with two ends that you can use to compare two things; mawaaziyn is plural. Al-Mizaan refers to the scale that will weigh our good and bad deeds on the Yawm-ul-Qaari’ah. Notice also it’s definite with single tanween (mawaazeenu), which is a hint it might be mudaaf (possessed object in a possessive case construct).
- Hu (هُ): The mudaaf ilayh. Hu is the majroor/mansoob version of huwa; so together with mawaazeen, we get the translation “his scales.” And the “he” refers to “man” earlier in the verse.
- Fa (فَ): (verse 7) This is the other meaning of fa–something that happens immediately after something else. Subhanallah it’s like the one who is heavy in his mawaazeen, fa huwa fiy ‘ishaat ar-raadi’a.
- Fiy (فِي): In. Standard harf-ul-jarr, where’s the majroor?
- ‘Iyshatin (عِيشَةٍ): It’s majroor because of fiy. It means life. It’s indefinite, so it means “a life.”
- Raadiyah (رَّاضِيَةٍ): Pleasant. You can see the root verb–radiya, to be pleased with (as in: radiallahu ‘anhu, Allah is pleased with them). Notice it’s the same a) number (singular) b) gender (feminine) c) case (majroor) d) definitivity (indefinite) as ‘ishaat–making it an adjective.
- Fa amma man khaffat mawaaziynuhu (وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ): (verse 8) Exactly the same construct as verse 6; except Allah uses khaffat, light; the commonly-used word is khafeef.
- Fa ummuhu (فَأُمُّهُ): (verse 9) Fa is the same particle of immediately-following as in verse 7. Ummun means a mother; Ummu is definite (single tanween), and it is, as you might guess, mudaaf; the mudaaf ilayhi is “hu.” Ummuhu, therefore, means “his mother.”
- Haawiyah (هَاوِيَةٌ): An abyss. If you’re non-Arab like me, you might say, “what IS this haawiyah thing?”
- Wa maa adraaka maa hiya (وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا هِيَ): Precisely the question posed in our minds. What is haawiyah?
- Naarun haamiyah (نَارٌ حَامِيَةٌ): Naarun means “a fire.” Haamiyatun means, intensely hot; note that these two match in the number, gender, case, and (in)definitiveness; they are na’at and man’oot, the adjective case. This is, of course, a glimpse of what is haawiyah; as we mentioned in the tafseer, we can never know fully what it is.
Wallahu ta’ala a’lam.
- Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.