Prayer Time

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Surah al-Adiyat is an early Makkan chapter in which Allah sears by the warhorses He has subjected to man's use that man is ungrateful. In the Chapter, Allah the Almighty describes the special features of warhorses or chargers, and swears by them. The subject of the oath states that man is very ungrateful to his Lord and creator with a passionate love for wealth.




The object of the chapter is to make the people realize how evil man becomes when he denies the Hereafter, or becomes heedless of it, and also to warn them that in the Hereafter not only their visible and apparent deeds but even the secrets hidden in their hearts too will be subjected to scrutiny.




For this purpose the general chaos and confusion prevailing in Arabia, with which the whole country was in turmoil, has been presented as an argument. Bloodshed, loot and plunder raged on every side. Tribes were subjecting tribes to raids, and no one could have peaceful sleep at night from fear that some enemy tribe might raid his settlement early in the morning. Every Arab was fully conscious of this state of affairs and realized that it was wrong. Although the plundered bemoaned his miserable, helpless state and the plunderer rejoiced, yet when the plunderer himself was plundered, he too realized how abject was the condition in which the whole nation was involved. Referring to this very state of affairs, it has been said: Unaware of the second life after death and his accountability before God in it, man has become ungrateful to his Lord and Sustainer. He is using the powers and abilities given by God for perpetrating tyranny and pillage; blinded by the love of worldly wealth he tries to obtain it by every means, however impure and filthy, and his own state itself testifies that by abusing the powers bestowed by his Lord he is being ungrateful to Him. He would never have behaved so, had he known the time when the dead will be raised from the graves, and when the intentions and motives with which he had done all sorts of deeds in the world, will be exposed and brought out before everyone to see. At that time the Lord and Sustainer of men shall be well informed of what one had done and what punishment or reward one deserved.




The text of the Chapter reads as follow:


(1) By the charging horses, snorting,


(2) Striking sparks with their hooves,


(3) Raiding at full gallop at dawn,


(4) Blazing a trailing dust-cloud in their wake


(5) And cleaving trough the centre,


(6) Truly man is ungrateful to his Lord.


(7) And he himself is a witness to this.


(8) And he is tenacious in his love of wealth.


(9) Does he not know that when the contents of the graves are thrown out,


(10) And the secrets in the breasts are brought into the open,


(11) That Day their Lord will be fully aware of them.






Allah takes an oath by horses due to His resplendent Signs and evident blessings that they contain, virtues recognized by everyone.[1] Allah takes an oath by them when they are in a state in which they do not resemble other animals: “By the charging horses,” running swiftly and powerfully “snorting,” their exertion causes their breaths to come out in pants and snorts. “Striking sparks with their hooves,” the strength of impact of their hooves on rock brought about by the speed of the charge causes sparks to fly.“Raiding at full gallop” against the enemy “at dawn,” as this is generally when the raid is done.[2]“Blazing a trailing dust-cloud in their wake” because of the speed of their charge “cleaving through the centre (of the foe),” they charged against.




The purpose of the oath follows next as Allah says:


“Truly man is ungrateful to his Lord,” parsimonious in showing gratitude for the good Allah has granted him. What is condemned in the verses is either the 'intense' or excessive love for wealth that makes one neglectful to one's obligations, and oblivious of the divine injunctions, or the sense is that earning wealth, even saving it according to one's needs is though permissible, having its love in the heart, which mostly result in miserliness is bad and abhorred by Allah. Meanwhile, a believer should acquire wealth, as commandes by Allah, to the extent of his need, save and protect it and utilize it whenever and wherever necessary, but his heart should not be too attached to it, nor should he give to it excessive love.




Man by nature does not freely fulfill his duties, and often, when he does do them, he does not do them completely or go beyond what is required; instead his nature is one of laziness and he lacks the resolve to fulfill his duties, those related to both wealth and body – except for those Allah has guided. “And he himself is a witness to this,” to his lack of desire in fulfilling duties and his tenacity, he will not deny or reject this because it is evident. It is also possible that the personal pronoun refers to Allah, Most High, i.e. “He (Allah) is a witness to that.” “And he” man “is tenacious in his love of wealth,” it is this love that has led him to abandon fulfilling his obligations. He has given precedence to the lusts of his soul over the good-pleasure of his Lord. This because his sight is beholden to this world and he is heedless of the Hereafter. It is for this reason that Allah says, directing his attention to the Promised Day so that he may fear it, “Does he not know that when the contents of the grave are thrown out,” the dead are taken out of the graves, resurrected and gathered “and the secrets of the breasts are brought into the open,” whatever they contained of good and evil is made known: secrets become open and the concealed, apparent. The end result of deeds will be plainly seen on people’s faces. “That Day their Lord will be fully aware of them,” their outer and inner deeds, the minor and major, and He will recompense them for them. Even though Allah is perfectly informed about them on every day, this Day has specifically been mentioned to highlight that those deeds will be fully recompensed since Allah is fully aware of them.




So, a Muslim should beware of the message from this chapter of the Quran, and learn to earn halal (legal) money and spend it charitably on himself, family and the needy. Some other verses speaking on man's ingratitude to his creator include:


(Q11:9); "And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful."


(Q14:34) "And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful."


(Q17:67) "And when adversity touches you at sea, lost are [all] those you invoke except for Him. But when He delivers you to the land, you turn away [from Him]. And ever is man ungrateful."


(Q22:66)  "And He is the one who gave you life; then He causes you to die and then will [again] give you life. Indeed, mankind is ungrateful."


(Q43:15) "But they have attributed to Him from His servants a portion. Indeed, man is clearly ungrateful."


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