Al-Muzzammil is the 73rd surah (chapter) of Al-Qur’an. It consists of 20 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.
THIS SURAH is almost certainly the fourth in the order of revelation. Although some of its verses may have come at a slightly later date, the whole of it belongs to the earliest Mecca period. The contention of some authorities that verse 20 was revealed at Medina lacks all substance, as is pointed out in note 13 below.
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 1
يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ
Ya aiyuhal muzzammil
1. O THOU enwrapped one!1
1 The expression muzzammil has a meaning similar to that of muddaththir, which occurs at the beginning
of the next surah: namely, “one who is covered [with anything]”, “enwrapped” or “enfolded [in anything]”;
and, like that other expression, it may be understood in a concrete, literal sense—i.e., “wrapped up in a cloak” or “blanket”—as well as metaphorically, i.e., “wrapped up in sleep” or even “wrapped up in oneself”. Hence, the commentators differ widely in their interpretations of the above apostrophe, some of them preferring the literal connotation, others the metaphorical; but there is no doubt that irrespective of the linguistic sense in which the address “O thou enwrapped one” is understood, it implies a call to heightened consciousness and deeper spiritual awareness on the part of the Prophet.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 2
قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
Qumil laila illaa qaleelaa
2. Keep awake [in prayer] at night, all but a small part
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 3
نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا
Nisfahooo awinqus minhu qaleelaa
3. of onehalf thereof2—or make it a little less than that,
2 Thus Zamakhshari, relating the phrase illa qalilan (“all but a small part”) to the subsequent word nisfahu (“one-half thereof”, i.e., of the night).
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 4
أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا
Aw zid ‘alaihi wa rattilil Qur’aana tarteela
4. or add to it [at will]; and [during that time] recite the Qur’an calmly and distinctly, with thy mind attuned to its meaning.3
3 This, I believe, is the closest possible rendering of the phrase rattil al-qur’ana tartilan. The term tartil primarily denotes “the putting [of something] together distinctly, in a well-arranged manner, and without any haste” (Jawhari, Baydawi; also Lisan al-‘Arab, Qamus). When applied to the recitation of a text, it signifies a calm, measured utterance with thoughtful consideration of the meaning to be brought out. A somewhat different significance attaches to a variant of this phrase in Al-Furqan : 32, applying to the manner in which the Qur’an was revealed.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 5
إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا
Innaa sanulqee ‘alaika qawlan saqeelaa
5. Behold, We shall bestow upon thee a weighty message—
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 6
إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا
Inn naashi’atal laili hiya ashadddu wat anw wa aqwamu qeelaa
6. [and,] verily, the hours of night the mind most strongly and speak with the clearest voice,4
4 Lit., “are strongest of tread and most upright of speech”.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 7
إِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا
Inna laka fin nahaari sabhan taweelaa
7. whereas by day a long chain of doings is thy portion.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 8
وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ اِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيْلًاۗ
Wazkuris ma rabbika wa tabattal ilaihi tabteelaa
8. But [whether by night or by day,] remember thy Sustainer’s name, and devote thyself unto Him with utter devotion.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 9
رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَاتَّخِذْهُ وَكِيلًا
Rabbul mashriqi wal maghriibi laaa ilaaha illaa Huwa fattakhizhu wakeelaa
9. The Sustainer of the east and the west [is He]: there is no deity save Him: hence, ascribe to Him alone the power to determine thy fate,5
5 For this rendering of the term wakil, see Surah Al-Isra’ , note 4.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 10
وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا
Wasbir ‘alaa maa yaqoo loona wahjurhum hajran jameelaa
10. and endure with patience whatever people may say [against thee], and avoid them with a comely avoidance.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 11
وَذَرْنِي وَالْمُكَذِّبِينَ أُولِي النَّعْمَةِ وَمَهِّلْهُمْ قَلِيلًا
Wa zarnee walmukaz zibeena ulin na’mati wa mahhilhum qaleelaa
11. And leave Me alone [to deal] with those who give the lie to the truth6—those who enjoy the blessings of life [without any thought of God]—and bear thou with them for a little while:
6 Cf. Surah Al-Muddathir : 11 and the last sentence of the corresponding note 5.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 12
إِنَّ لَدَيْنَا أَنْكَالًا وَجَحِيمًا
Inna ladainaaa ankaalanw wa jaheemaa
12. for, behold, heavy fetters [await them] with Us, and a blazing fire,
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 13
وَطَعَامًا ذَا غُصَّةٍ وَعَذَابًا أَلِيمًا
Wa ta’aaman zaa ghussa tinw wa’azaaban aleemaa
13. and food that chokes, and grievous suffering7
7 Explaining this symbolism of torment in the hereafter, Razi says: “These four conditions may well be understood as denoting the spiritual consequences [of one’s doings in life]. As regards the ‘heavy fetters’, they are a symbol of the soul’s remaining shackled to its [erstwhile] physical attachments and bodily pleasures…: and now that their realization has become impossible, those fetters and shackles prevent the [resurrected] human personality (an-nafs) from attaining to the realm of the spirit and of purity. Subsequently, those spiritual shackles generate spiritual ‘fires’ inasmuch as one’s strong inclination towards bodily concerns, together with the impossibility of attaining to them, give rise, spiritually, to [a sensation of] severe burning…: and this is [the meaning of] ‘the blazing fire’ (al-jahim). Thereupon [the sinner] tries to swallow the choking agony of deprivation and the pain of separation [from the objects of his desire]: and this is the meaning of the words, ‘and food that chokes’, And, finally, because of these circumstances, he remains deprived of all illumination by the light of God, and of all communion with the blessed ones: and this is the meaning of the words ‘and grievous suffering’ … But [withal,] know that I do not claim to have exhausted the meaning of these [Qur’an] verses by what I have stated [above]…”
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 14
يَوْمَ تَرْجُفُ الْأَرْضُ وَالْجِبَالُ وَكَانَتِ الْجِبَالُ كَثِيبًا مَهِيلًا
Yawma tarjuful ardu waljibaalu wa kaanatil jibaalu kaseebam maheelaa
14. on the Day when the earth and the mountains will be convulsed and the mountains will [crumble and] become like a sand-dune on the move!8
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 15
إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ رَسُولًا شَاهِدًا عَلَيْكُمْ كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ رَسُولًا
Innaa arsalnaaa ilaikum rasoolan shaahidan ‘aleykum kamaaa arsalnaaa ilaa Fir’awna rasoolaa
15. BEHOLD, [O men,] We have sent unto you an apostle who shall bear witness to the truth before you, even as We sent an apostle unto Pharaoh:9
9 This is probably the oldest Qur’anic reference to the earlier prophets, to the historic, continuity in mankind’s religious experience, and, by implication, to the fact that the Qur’an does not institute a “new” faith but represents only the final, most comprehensive statement of religious principle as old as mankind itself: namely, that “in the sight of God, the only [true] religion is [man’s] self-surrender unto Him” (Al ‘Imran : 19), and that “if one goes in search of a religion other than self-surrender unto God, it will never be accepted from him” (Al ‘Imran : 85).
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 16
فَعَصَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ الرَّسُولَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُ أَخْذًا وَبِيلًا
Fa’asaa Fir’awnur Rasoola fa akhaznaahu akhzanw wabeelaa
16. and Pharaoh rebelled against the apostle, whereupon We took him to task with a crushing grip.
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 17
فَكَيْفَ تَتَّقُونَ إِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ يَوْمًا يَجْعَلُ الْوِلْدَانَ شِيبًا
Fakaifa tattaqoona in kafartum yawmany yaj’alul wildaana sheeba
17. How, then, if you refuse to acknowledge the truth, will you protect yourselves on that Day which shall turn the hair of children grey,10
10 In ancient Arabian usage, a day full of terrifying events was described metaphorically as a day on which the locks of children turn grey”; hence the use of this phrase in the Qur’an. Its purely metaphorical character is obvious since, according to the teachings of the Qur’an, children are considered sinless—i.e., not accountable for their doings—and will, therefore, remain untouched by the ordeals and terrors of the Day of Judgment (Razi).
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 18
السَّمَاءُ مُنْفَطِرٌ بِهِ ۚ كَانَ وَعْدُهُ مَفْعُولًا
Assamaaa’u munfatirum bih; kaana wa’duhoo maf’oola
18. [the Day] on which the skies shall be rent asunder, [and] His promise [of resurrection] fulfilled?
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 19
إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا
Inna haazihee tazkiratun fa man shaaa’at takhaza ilaa Rabbihee sabeelaa
19. This, verily, is a reminder: let him who wills, then set out on a way to his Sustainer!
Surah Al-Muzzammil Ayat 20
إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ تَقُومُ أَدْنَىٰ مِنْ ثُلُثَيِ اللَّيْلِ وَنِصْفَهُ وَثُلُثَهُ وَطَائِفَةٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ مَعَكَ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يُقَدِّرُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ ۚ عَلِمَ أَنْ لَنْ تُحْصُوهُ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۖ فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ ۚ عَلِمَ أَنْ سَيَكُونُ مِنْكُمْ مَرْضَىٰ ۙ وَآخَرُونَ يَضْرِبُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَبْتَغُونَ مِنْ فَضْلِ اللَّهِ ۙ وَآخَرُونَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۖ فَاقْرَءُوا مَا تَيَسَّرَ مِنْهُ ۚ وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَقْرِضُوا اللَّهَ قَرْضًا حَسَنًا ۚ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ هُوَ خَيْرًا وَأَعْظَمَ أَجْرًا ۚ وَاسْتَغْفِرُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
Inna Rabbaka ya’lamu annaka taqoomu adnaa min sulusa yil laili wa nisfahoo wa sulusahoo wa taaa’ifatum minal lazeena ma’ak; wal laahu yuqaddirul laila wanna haar; ‘alima al lan tuhsoohu fataaba ‘alaikum faqra’oo maa tayassara minal quraan; ‘alima an sa yakoonu minkum mardaa wa aakharoona yadriboona fil ardi yabtaghoona min fadlil laahi wa aakharoona yuqaatiloona fee sabeelil laahi faqra’oo ma tayassara minhu wa aqeemus salaata wa aatuz zakaata wa aqridul laaha qardan hasanaa; wa maa tuqadimoo li anfusikum min khairin tajidoohu ‘indal laahi huwa khayranw wa a’zama ajraa; wastaghfirul laahaa innal laaha ghafoorur raheem.
20. BEHOLD, [O Prophet,] thy Sustainer knows that thou keepest awake [in prayer] nearly twothirds of the night, or one-half of it, or a third of it, together with some of those who follow thee.11 And God who determines the measure of night and day, is aware that you would never grudge it:12 and therefore He turns towards you in His grace.
Recite, then, as much of the Qur’an as you may do with ease. He knows that in time there will be among you sick people, and others who will go about the land in search of God’s bounty, and others who will fight in God’s cause.13 Recite, then, [only] as much of it as you may do with ease, and be constant in prayer, and spend in charity,14 and [thus] lend unto God a goodly loan: for whatever good deed you may offer up in your own behalf, you shall truly find it with God—yea, better, and richer in reward.
And [always] seek God’s forgiveness: behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!
11 Lit., “of those who are with thee”. With this concluding passage, the discourse returns to the theme of the opening verses, namely, the great spiritual value of praying at night.
12 Lit., “count it”, i.e., the length of your vigil.
13 This reference to “fighting in God’s cause” has induced many commentators to assume that the whole of verse 20 was revealed at Medina; that is, years after the rest of the surah: for, the principle of “fighting in God’s cause” (jihad) was introduced only after the Prophet’s hijrah from Mecca to Medina. This assumption must, however, be dismissed as unwarranted. Although there is no doubt that jihad was first sanctioned during the Medina period, the sentence in question is clearly expressed in the future tense: “in time there will be” (sayakun)—and must, therefore, as Ibn Kathir points out, be understood as a prediction of future circumstances. With all this, the above passage stresses the necessity of avoiding all exaggeration even in one’s devotions.
14 For an explanation of the term zakah—of which the above is the earliest Qur’anic instance—see Surah Al-Baqarah , note 34.
Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad