This is a Mecan surah which deals with the punishment of disbelievers in this life and the life to come, as well as the ultimate reward of the believers. The first section describes communities which God destroyed in the past for their unbelief: the people of Thamud and Ad, Egypt (during the Exodus), and the whole world during the time of Noah during the great flood. Noah (who is seen as a great prophet in Islam) is an example of a righteous believer who was spared calamity.
The next section deals with the future Day of Judgment (or, The Inevitable Hour), when God will separate the believers (who will go to heaven) from the unbelievers (who will go to hell). This section contains apocalyptic imagery that recalls the book of Revelation in the Bible: “And when the Trumpet is sounded a single time, when the earth and its mountains are raised high and then crushed with a single blow, on that Day the Great Event will come to pass. The sky will be torn apart on that Day, it will be so frail.” And so on.
The imagery describing the fate of the unbelievers in hell is particularly evocative, and would make a good 1980s heavy metal album cover, with strong S&M overtones: “Take him, put a collar on him, lead him to burn in the blazing fire, and (bind him) in a chain seventy meters long…and the only food he has is the filth that only sinners eat.” So metal!
|Here is an album cover from the heavy metal band Dio.|