Surah Ma'arij in Arabic with English Transliteration and Translation

70. Al-Ma’arij (The Ways Of Ascent) – المعارج

Al-Ma’arij is the 70th surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 44 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.


THUS CALLED after the word al-ma’arij appearing in verse 3, this surah belongs to the middle of the Mecca period. It is mainly devoted to the challenge which unbelief—or, rather, unwillingness to believe—offers to faith, both of them being conditioned by the restlessness inherent in human nature.

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 1

سَأَلَ سَائِلٌ بِعَذَابٍ وَاقِعٍ

Sa’ala saaa’ilun bi ‘azaabinw waaqi’

1. ONE who is minded to ask might ask1 about the suffering which [in the hereafter] is bound to befall


1 Lit.,” An inquirer inquired” or “might inquire”.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 2

لِلْكَافِرِينَ لَيْسَ لَهُ دَافِعٌ

Lil kaafireena laisa lahoo daafi’

2. those who deny the truth.2 [Know, then, that] nothing can ward it off,


2 In view of the fact that many of “those who deny the truth”—and, by implication, do evil in consequence
of that deliberate denial—prosper in this world, a doubter might well ask whether or when this state of affairs will really be reversed and the values adjusted in accord with divine justice. An answer to the “whether” is given in the second paragraph of verse 2; and to the “when”, elliptically, at the end of verse 4.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 3

مِنَ اللَّهِ ذِي الْمَعَارِجِ

Minal laahi zil ma’aarij

3. [since it will come] from God, unto whom there are many ways of ascent:3


3 Lit., “He of the [many] ascents”: a metonymical phrase implying that there are many ways by which man can “ascend” to a comprehension of God’s existence, and thus to spiritual “nearness” to Him—and that,
therefore, it is up to each human being to avail himself of any of the ways leading towards Him (cf. Surah Al-Insan [76]: 3).


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 4

تَعْرُجُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ إِلَيْهِ فِي يَوْمٍ كَانَ مِقْدَارُهُ خَمْسِينَ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ

Ta’rujul malaaa’ikatu war Roohu ilaihi fee yawmin kaana miqdaaruhoo khamseena alfa sanah

4. all the angels and all the inspiration [ever granted to man] ascend unto Him4 [daily,] in a day the length whereof is [like] fifty thousand years.5


4 For my rendering of ruh as “inspiration”, see Surah An-Nahl [16]: 2, note 2. The “ascent” of the angels and of all inspiration may be understood in the same sense as the frequently-occurring phrase “all things go back to God [as their source]” (Razi). 

5 The very concept of “time” is meaningless in relation to God, who is timeless and infinite: cf. note 63 on the last sentence of Surah Al-Hajj [21]: 47—”in thy Sustainer’s sight a day is like a thousand years of your reckoning”: in other words, a day, or an aeon, or a thousand years, or fifty thousand years are alike to Him, having an apparent reality only within the created world and none with the Creator. And since in the hereafter time will cease to have a meaning for man as well, it is irrelevant to ask as to “when” the evildoers will be chastised and the righteous given their due.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 5

فَاصْبِرْ صَبْرًا جَمِيلًا

Fasbir sabran jameelaa

5. Therefore, [O believer,] endure all adversity with goodly patience:


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 6

إِنَّهُمْ يَرَوْنَهُ بَعِيدًا

Inaahum yarawnahoo ba’eedaa

6. behold, men6 look upon that [reckoning] as something far away


6 Lit., “they”.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 7

وَنَرَاهُ قَرِيبًا

Wa naraahu qareebaa

7. but, We see it as near!


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 8

يَوْمَ تَكُونُ السَّمَاءُ كَالْمُهْلِ

Yawma takoonus samaaa’u kalmuhl

8. [It will take place] on a Day when the sky will be like molten lead,

 


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 9

وَتَكُونُ الْجِبَالُ كَالْعِهْنِ

Wa takoonul jibaalu kal’ihn

9. and the mountains will be like tufts of wool,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 10

وَلَا يَسْأَلُ حَمِيمٌ حَمِيمًا

Wa laa yas’alu hameemun hameemaa

10. and [when] no friend will ask about his friend,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 11

يُبَصَّرُونَهُمْ ۚ يَوَدُّ الْمُجْرِمُ لَوْ يَفْتَدِي مِنْ عَذَابِ يَوْمِئِذٍ بِبَنِيهِ

Yubassaroonahum; ya waddul mujrimu law yaftadee min ‘azaabi yawma’izim bibaneeh

11. though they may be in one another’s sight: [for,] everyone who was lost in sin will on that Day but desire to ransom himself from suffering at the price of his own children,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 12

وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَأَخِيهِ

Wa saahibatihee wa akheeh

12. and of his spouse, and of his brother,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 13

وَفَصِيلَتِهِ الَّتِي تُؤْوِيهِ

Wa faseelathil latee tu’weeh

13. and of all the kinsfolk who ever sheltered him,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 14

وَمَنْ فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا ثُمَّ يُنْجِيهِ

Wa man fil ardi jamee’an summa yunjeeh

14. and of whoever [else] lives on earth, all of them—so that he could but save himself.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 15

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّهَا لَظَىٰ

Kallaa innahaa lazaa

15. But nay! Verily, all [that awaits him] is a raging flame,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 16

نَزَّاعَةً لِلشَّوَىٰ

Nazzaa’atal lishshawaa

16. tearing away his skin!


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 17

تَدْعُو مَنْ أَدْبَرَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ

Tad’oo man adbara wa tawallaa

17. It will claim all such as turn their backs [on what is right], and turn away [from the truth],


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 18

وَجَمَعَ فَأَوْعَىٰ

Wa jama’a fa aw’aa

18. and amass [wealth] and thereupon withhold [it from their fellow-men].


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 19

إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ خُلِقَ هَلُوعًا *

Innal insaana khuliqa haloo’aa

19. VERILY, man is born with a restless disposition.7


7 Lit., “man has been created restless (halu’an)”—that is, endowed with an inner restlessness which may equally well drive him to fruitful achievement or to chronic discontent and frustration. In other words, it is the manner in which man utilizes this God—will endowment that determines whether it shall have a positive or a negative character. The subsequent two verses (20 and 21) allude to the latter, while verses 22-25 show that only true spiritual and moral consciousness can mould that inborn restlessness into a positive force, and thus bring about inner stability and abiding contentment.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 20

إِذَا مَسَّهُ الشَّرُّ جَزُوعًا

Izaa massahush sharru jazoo’aa

20. [As a rule,] whenever misfortune touches him, he is filled with self-pity;8


8 The participle jazu—derived from the verb jazi’a—combines the concepts of “lacking patience” and “lamenting over one’s misfortune”, and is therefore the contrary of sabr (Jawhari).


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 21

وَإِذَا مَسَّهُ الْخَيْرُ مَنُوعًا

Wa izaa massahul khairu manoo’aa

21. and whenever good fortune comes to him, he selfishly withholds it [from others].


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 22

إِلَّا الْمُصَلِّينَ

Illal musalleen

22. Not so, however, those who consciously turn towards God in prayer.9


9 This, I believe, is the meaning of the expression al-musallin (lit., “the praying ones”), which evidently does not relate here to the mere ritual of prayer but, rather, as the next verse shows, to the attitude of mind and the spiritual need underlying it. In this sense it connects with the statement in verse 19 that “man is born with a restless disposition” which, when rightly used, leads him towards conscious spiritual growth, as well as to freedom from all self-pity and selfishness.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 23

الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ دَائِمُونَ

Allazeena hum ‘alaa Salaatihim daaa’imoon

23. [and] who incessantly persevere in their prayer


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 24

وَالَّذِينَ فِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ مَعْلُومٌ

Wallazeena feee amwaalihim haqqun ma’loom

24. and in whose possessions there is a due share, acknowledged [by them],


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 25

لِلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ

Lissaaa ‘ili walmahroom

25. for such as ask [for help] and such as are deprived [of what is good in life];10


10 Sc., “but do not or cannot beg”: see Razi’s comments on a similar phrase in Surah Az-Zariyat [51]: 19, quoted in my corresponding note 12.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 26

وَالَّذِينَ يُصَدِّقُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ

Wallazeena yusaddiqoona bi yawmid Deen

26. and who accept as true the [coming of the] Day of Judgment;


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 27

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِ رَبِّهِمْ مُشْفِقُونَ

Wallazeena hum min ‘azaabi Rabbihim mushfiqoon

27. and who stand in dread of their Sustainer’s chastisement


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 28

إِنَّ عَذَابَ رَبِّهِمْ غَيْرُ مَأْمُونٍ

Inna ‘azaaba Rabbihim ghairu ma’ moon

28. for, behold, of their Sustainer’s chastisement none may ever feel [wholly] secure;11


11 This warning against pharisaic self-righteousness implies that however “good” a person may be, there is always a possibility of his or her having done a moral wrong (e.g., an injury to a fellow-being) and then conveniently “forgotten” this sin. Elliptically, this warning contains a call to increasing consciousness in all one’s doings—for, “temptation to evil (fitnah) does not befall only those who are bent on denying the truth” (Surah Al-Anfal [8]: 25), but may also befall people who are otherwise righteous.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 29

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ

Wallazeena hum li furoojihim haafizoon

29. and who are mindful of their chastity,12


12 Lit., “who guard their private parts”.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 30

إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ

Illaa ‘alaaa azwaajihim aw maa malakat aymaanuhum fa innahum ghairu maloomeen

30. [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses—that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]—:13 for then, behold, they are free of all blame,


13 See the identical passage in Surah Al-Mu’minun [23]: 5-7, as well as the corresponding note 3, in which I have fully explained the reasons for my rendering of the phrase aw ma malakat aymanuhum as “that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]”. As regards this interpretation, see al Razi’s comments on Surah Al-Nisa’ [4]: 24, as well as one of the alternative interpretations of that verse advanced by Tabari on the authority of lbn Abbas and Mujahid.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 31

فَمَنِ ابْتَغَىٰ وَرَاءَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْعَادُونَ

Famanib taghaa waraaa’a zaalika fa ulaaa’ika humul ‘aadoon

31. whereas such as seek to go beyond that [limit] are truly transgressors;


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 32

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِأَمَانَاتِهِمْ وَعَهْدِهِمْ رَاعُونَ

Wallazeena hum li amaanaatihim wa ‘ahdihim raa’oon

32. and who are faithful to their trusts and to their pledges:


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 33

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ بِشَهَادَاتِهِمْ قَائِمُونَ

Wallazeena hum bi shahaadaatihim qaaa’imoon

33. and who stand firm whenever they bear witness;


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 34

وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ عَلَىٰ صَلَاتِهِمْ يُحَافِظُونَ

Wallazeena hum ‘alaa salaatihim yuhaafizoon

34. and who guard their prayers [from all worldly intent].


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 35

أُولَٰئِكَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ مُكْرَمُونَ

Ulaaa’ika fee jannaatim mukramoon

35. These it is who in the gardens [of paradise] shall be honoured!


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 36

فَمَالِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا قِبَلَكَ مُهْطِعِينَ

Famaa lil lazeena kafaroo qibalaka muhti’een

36. WHAT, THEN, is amiss with such as are bent on denying the truth, that they run about confusedly to and fro before thee,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 37

عَنِ الْيَمِينِ وَعَنِ الشِّمَالِ عِزِينَ

‘Anil yameeni wa ‘anish shimaali ‘izeen

37. [coming upon thee] from the right and from the left, in crowds?14


14 This, again, connects with the statement in verse 19, “man is born with a restless disposition (see note 7 above). People who do not want to see the truth of God’s existence and have, therefore, no solid basis on which to build their world-view, are, by the same token, unable to conceive any definite standards of personal and social ethics. Hence, whenever they are confronted with anyone’s positive assertion of faith, they “run about to and fro” in spiritual confusion, trying, in order to justify themselves intellectually, to demolish the premises of that faith by means of many-sided, contradictory arguments—an endeavour depicted in the metaphor, “coming upon thee from the right and from the left”; and since they derive all their strength from a conformity with shallow mass-opinions, they can do this only “in crowds”.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 38

أَيَطْمَعُ كُلُّ امْرِئٍ مِنْهُمْ أَنْ يُدْخَلَ جَنَّةَ نَعِيمٍ

Ayatma’u kullum ri’im minhum anyyudkhala jannata Na’eem

38. Does every one of them hope to enter [by this means] a garden of bliss?15


15 I.e., “Do they hope to achieve inner peace and fulfilment by ‘disproving’ another person’s faith?”


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 39

كَلَّا ۖ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُمْ مِمَّا يَعْلَمُونَ

Kallaaa innaa khalaq nahum mimmaa ya’lamoon

39. Never! For, behold, We have created them out of something that they know [only too well]!16


16 Namely, out of “dust”—i.e., out of the same primitive organic and inorganic substances as are found
in and on the earth: the implication being that only spiritual consciousness and endeavour can raise man above the mere material form of his existence, and thus enable him achieve the inner fulfilment metaphorically described here as “a garden of bliss”.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 40

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا لَقَادِرُونَ

Falaaa uqsimu bi Rabbil mashaariqi wal maghaaribi innaa laqaadiroon

40. But nay! I call to witness [Our being] the Sustainer of all the points of sunrise and sunset:17 verily, well able are We


17 I.e., of all the variation, throughout the solar year, of the points at which the sun “rises” and “sets”: thus stressing the fact that He is the Ultimate Cause of all orbital movement in the universe and, hence, its Creator (cf. Surah Al-Saffat [37]: 5 and Surah Ar-Rahman [55]: 17).


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 41

عَلَىٰ أَنْ نُبَدِّلَ خَيْرًا مِنْهُمْ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ

‘Alaaa an nubaddila khairan minhum wa maa nahnu bi masbooqeen

41. to replace them with [people] better than they are; for there is nothing to prevent Us [from doing what We will].18


18 The implication is that it is not His will to replace “those who are bent on denying the truth”, in this world, by believers, inasmuch as such a “replacement” would not be in accord with His design of multiform human existence, in which faith is always challenged and tested by unbelief, and vice versa.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 42

فَذَرْهُمْ يَخُوضُوا وَيَلْعَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يُلَاقُوا يَوْمَهُمُ الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ

Fazarhum yakhoodoo wa yal’aboo hattaa yulaaqoo yawma humul lazee yoo’adoon

42. Hence, leave them to indulge in idle talk and play [with words]19 until they face that [Judgment] Day of theirs which they have been promised


19 I.e., their philosophizing about a supposedly “uncreated” world and a hypothetical “selfgeneration” of life, as well as their blatant “denial”, unsupported by any factual evidence, of a life after death or even of the existence of God.


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 43

يَوْمَ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ سِرَاعًا كَأَنَّهُمْ إِلَىٰ نُصُبٍ يُوفِضُونَ

Yawma yakhrujoona minal ajdaasi siraa’an ka anna hum ilaa nusubiny yoofidoon

43. the Day when they shall come forth in haste from their graves, as if racing towards a goal-post,


Surah Al-Maarij Ayat 44

خَاشِعَةً أَبْصَارُهُمْ تَرْهَقُهُمْ ذِلَّةٌ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمُ الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ

Khaashi’atan absaaruhum tarhaquhum zillah; zaalikal yawmul lazee kaanoo yoo’adoon

44. with downcast eyes, with ignominy overwhelming them: that Day which they were promised again and again….20


20 The concept of “again and again”—i.e., by a succession, through the ages, of prophetic revelations—is implied in the auxiliary verb kanu, which usually connotes repetition and/or duration.


Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad