Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LXXXVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL GHÁSHIYA (THE OVERWHELMING). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER LXXXVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL GHÁSHIYA (THE OVERWHELMING). Revealed at Makkah. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 4 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
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ENTITLED SURAT AL GHÁSHIYA (THE OVERWHELMING).
The object of the revelations of this chapter seems to have been to inspire reverence for the Prophet and his teachings by describing the tortures of the wicked in hell. The joys of Paradise are described for the comfort of the poor and as yet despised Muslims of Makkah. Muhammad is only a warner, but the very exhortations to use no force against the unbelievers show that the idea of compulsory conversion of the people was now present in his mind.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
The hint that force might have been used to convert the Quraish (ver. 22) implies strong opposition to Muhammad. This, with the somewhat detailed description of the joys of Paradise, points to a period of Muhammad’s ministry near to and yet preceding the earliest persecutions of the Muslims. This would be, as Noeldeke has it, about the fourth year of the ministry at Makkah.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) Hath the news of the overwhelming day of judgment reached thee? (2) The countenances of some, on that day, shall be cast down; (3) labouring and toiling, (4) they shall be cast into scorching fire to be broiled: (5) they shall be given to drink of a boiling fountain: (6) they shall have no food, but of dry thorns and thistles: (7) which shall not fatten, neither shall they satisfy hunger. (8)But the countenances of others, on that day, shall be joyful; (9) well pleased with their past endeavour: (10) they shall be placed in a lofty garden, (11) wherein thou shalt hear no vain discourse: (12) therein shall be a running fountain; (13) therein shall be raised beds, (14) and goblets placed before them,(15) and cushions laid in order, (16) and carpets ready spread. (17) Do they not consider the camels, how they are created? (18) and the heaven, how it is raised? (19) and the mountains, how they are fixed? (20) and the earth, how it is extended? (21) Wherefore warn thy people; for thou art a warner only: (22) thou art not empowered to act with authority over them. (23) But whoever shall turn back, and disbelieve, (24) God shall punish him with the greater punishment of the life to come. (25) Verily unto us shall they return: (26) then shall it be our part to bring them to account.
[(3) ]Labouring and toiling, i.e., “dragging their chains, and labouring through hell-fire, as camels labour through mud, &c. Or, ‘Employing and fatiguing themselves’ in what shall not avail them.”—Sale.
[(8-16) ]Compare with these verses chaps. lxxviii. 31-37, iii. 15, and see notes there.
[(17) ]The camels. “These animals are of such use, or rather necessity, in the East, that the creation of a species so wonderfully adapted to those countries is a very proper instance, to an Arabian, of the power and wisdom of God. Some, however, think the ‘clouds’ (which the original word ibl also signifies) are here intended, ‘the heaven’ being mentioned immediately after.”—Sale.
[(21, 22) ]See note on chap. ii. 119.
[(23) ]Whoever shall turn back. “Or ‘except him who shall turn back and be an infidel; and God shall punish him,’ &c. By which exception some suppose that power is here given to Muhammad to chastise obstinate infidels and apostates.”—Sale.