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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

70. The Ways of Ascent (1 – 44)

A Meccan sura that describes the Day of Judgement (verses 8–18). One of the opponents of the Prophet challenged him to hasten the punishment they had been threatened with (verse 1), so the foolishness of the disbelievers in denying the Resurrection (verse 6) is exposed (verses 36–44). The people who will be granted the Garden are described (verses 22–35). The title is a reference to the paths through which angels ascend to God, mentioned in verses 3–4.

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1A man [mockingly] demanded the punishment. 2It will fall on the disbelievers—none can deflect it—3from God, the Lord of the Ways of Ascent, 4by which the angels and the Spirit ascend to Him, on a Day whose length is fifty thousand years. 5So be patient, [Prophet], as befits you. 6The disbelievers think it is distant, 7but We know it to be close. 8On a Day when the heavens will be like molten brass 9and the mountains like tufts of wool, 10when no friend will ask about his friend, 11even when they are within sight of one another. The guilty person will wish he could save himself from the suffering of that Day by sacrificing his sons, 12his spouse, his brother, 13the kinsfolk who gave him shelter, 14and everyone on earth, if it could save him. 15But no! There is a raging flame 16that strips away the skin, 17and it will claim everyone who rejects the truth, turns away, 18amasses wealth and hoards it.

19Man was truly created anxious: 20he is fretful when misfortune touches him, 21but tight-fisted when good fortune comes his way. 22Not so those who pray 23and are constant in their prayers; 24who give a due share of their wealth 25to beggars and the deprived; 26who believe in the Day of Judgement27and fear the punishment of their Lord—28none may feel wholly secure from it—29who guard their chastity 30from all but their spouses or their slave-girls—there is no blame attached to [relations with] these, 31but those whose desires exceed this limit are truly transgressors—32who are faithful to their trusts and their pledges; 33who give honest testimony 34and are steadfast in their prayers.35They will be honoured in Gardens of bliss. 36What is wrong with the disbelievers? Why do they rush to peer at you [Prophet], 37from right and left, in crowds? 38Does every one of them expect to enter a Garden of bliss? 39No! We created them from the substance they know,a They deny the Resurrection, and this points out to them that God has the power to create them from such a small beginning and that He can bring about the Resurrection. Cf. 56: 56–62. 40and, by the Lord of every sunrise and sunset, We have the power 41to substitute for them others better than they are—nothing can prevent Us from doing this. 42So leave them to wallow in idle talk, until they come face to face with their promised Day, 43the Day they will rush out of their graves as if rallying to a flag, 44eyes downcast and covered in shame: that is the Day of which they were warned.

Notes:

a They deny the Resurrection, and this points out to them that God has the power to create them from such a small beginning and that He can bring about the Resurrection. Cf. 56: 56–62.

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