Sūrat al-Muddathir (Arabic: سُـورة الـمُـدّثّـر‎, "Chapter of the Cloaked One" or "Chapter of the Man Wearing a Cloak") is the 74th sura of the Qur’an, with 56 ayat.


Most Qur’anic historians agree that this sura was part of the early Meccan revelations. Many well known authors’ chronologies place Surat al-Muddaththir as the second sura revealed to the Prophet Muhammed including Ibn Kathir,[1] citing the hadith:

Jabir ibn Abd Allah told, I heard the Messenger of Allah – and he was narrating about the pause in Revelation – so he said in his narration: “I was walking, when I heard a voice from the heavens. So I raised my head, and there was an angel, the one that had come to me at Hira, sitting upon a chair between the heavens and the earth. I fled from him out of fear, and I returned and said: ‘Wrap me up! Wrap me up! So they covered me.” Then Allah, Most High revealed: ‘O you who are wrapped up! Arise and warn.’ Up to His saying: ‘And keep away from the Rujz!’ before the Salat was made obligatory.”

Sahih al-Bukhari,[2] Sahih Muslim,[3] Jami` at-Tirmidhi,[4] Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, etc.[5] Although reports exist of revelation order other than second, the thematic elements of preparation for the Day of Judgment and warnings for the non-believers are consistent with other early Meccan suras. According to Sayyid Qutb's exegesis, the first verses of this sura as well as those of Sura 73 represent the Prophet’s earliest revelations and those which prepare him for the ordeal of revelation.


Surat al-Muddaththir is structured thematically and chronologically. Containing 56 total verses, this sura was most likely revealed on at least two different occasions and compiled retroactively. Verses 1-30 and 32-56 are composed of short, poetic lines which maintain rhyme structure and the Arabic rhetorical device of parallel construction. This is consistent with the verses of the early Meccan period. Verse 31 is unique in its prose-like syntax and length; it is easily the longest verse of this sura and is a glaring break with the rhyme structure that precedes and follows it. This type of verse is most common in the later Medinan revelations.

Major themes

There are several distinct thematic sections of this sura.[6] The first is an injunction for self-preparedness. If verse 1 refers to the Prophet Muhammed (al-Muddaththir, or cloaked one): You, wrapped in your cloak, then the second verse serves to alert the Prophet to a changing environment from which he is charged with saving mankind: Arise, and give warning (74:2). Verses 3-7 are injunctions, then, for the Prophet (or whoever follows the righteous path of God) to maintain cleanliness, monotheism, humility, and patience in his own life. These are all preparations for the revelation of the rest of the message.

The next thematic section of Surat al-Muddaththir is a warning for the unbelievers. Verses 8-30 describe the rejection of God's word and the excruciating consequences that result. For he that has not been grateful for the bounty of God’s blessing and demands more, disregarding the signs and revelations of God, will be cast into the Saqar, which here refers to the scorching fire of Hell. This image of an unbeliever emphasizes the individuality of the responsibility of obeying God's message: the onus falls upon the individual man to save himself from Hell.[6] Verse 30 refers to nineteen angels who guard the pit of hell; this curious detail is expounded upon in the following verse, which is believed to be a Medinan addition. Some scholars, such as Sayyid Qutb, have stated that verse 31 serves as an explanation of verse 30 that was added after early Muslims and unbelievers alike questioned the specificity of the nineteen angels:[6]

We have appointed none other than angels to guard the fire, and We have made their number a test for the unbelievers. Thus those who have been granted revelations in the past may be convinced and the believers may grow more firm in their faith; and so those who have been granted revelations and the believers will entertain no doubt; but the sick at heart and the unbelievers will ask, "What could God mean by this image?" Thus God lets go astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. No one knows your Lord's forces except Him. This is all but a reminder for mankind. (74:31)

Thus verse 31 explains the mystery of the nineteen angels by portraying the number as a marker of faith. True believers will not question it, as it is the word of God, and those who God has "led astray" will be troubled by doubts.

The next section of Surat al-Muddaththir uses the tangible, accessible physical world as proof that the devastation which awaits the unbelievers will be equally real (74:32-36). It then transitions back to the theme of individual responsibility. Verses 37-47 describe the trial of the soul in Saqar, and the decisions of the individuals who found themselves there. There will be no intercession for them; once they rejected God’s word, their eternal souls were doomed (74:48).

Finally, the sura returns to the realm of the living to give its final injunction. Verses 49-56 emphasize the vital need for mankind to fear and glorify God. Having given the believers an image of what happens to those who do not heed the message, the sura ends with a reminder that ultimately, God controls the destiny of all mankind and that nobody will remember what God does not let him. This ultimate authority of God is the final image of Surat al-Muddaththir.

The ḥumur and qaswarah

An Asiatic lion in Zürich Zoo, Switzerland, 2012. The Arabian population[8][9] is now extinct.[10]

Verses 50 and 51 refer to a scene of ḥumur (Arabic: حُـمُـر‎, 'asses' or 'donkeys') fleeing from a qaswarah (Arabic: قَـسْـوَرَة‎, 'lion', 'beast of prey' or 'hunter').[11][12] The wild ass that inhabited the Arabian Peninsula was of the Syrian subspecies.[7] The lion that inhabited this region, at least the sandy deserts[13][14] north of the southern region,[15] would have been the Arabian population[8][9] of the Asiatic lion[10] (Panthera leo leo).[16][17] A reference to the lion[18][19] in the region of Pilgrimage is in a hadith.[20] Nowadays, neither the ass[7] nor lion[10] inhabit the wilderness of the peninsula.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ USC-MSA web (English) reference  : Vol. 6, Book 60, Hadith 448 Arabic reference  : Book 65, Hadith 4926
  3. ^ Sahih Muslim 161 a In-book reference  : Book 1, Hadith 313 USC-MSA web (English) reference  : Book 1, Hadith 304 (deprecated numbering scheme)
  4. ^ Grade : Sahih (Darussalam) English reference  : Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3325 Arabic reference  : Book 47, Hadith 3644
  5. ^ Maududi
  6. ^ a b c Qutb, Sayyid. "In the Shade of the Qur'an". Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c Moehlman, P. & Feh, C. (2002). "Equus hemionus ssp. hemippus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  8. ^ a b The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 14. Charles Knight and Co. 1846-01-09. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  9. ^ a b Charles Knight, ed. (1867). The English Cyclopaedia. Retrieved 2014-08-28. 
  10. ^ a b c Heptner, V. G.; Sludskii, A. A. (1992) [1972]. Mlekopitajuščie Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moskva: Vysšaia Škola [Mammals of the Soviet Union, Volume II, Part 2]. Leiden u.a.: Brill. ISBN 90-04-08876-8. 
  11. ^ Quran 74:41–51
  12. ^ Khalaf-von Jaffa, N.A.B.A.T. (2006). "The Asiatic or Persian Lion (Panthera leo persica, Meyer 1826) in Palestine and the Arabian and Islamic Region". Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2016-12-21. 
  13. ^ Jardine, W. (1834). The Naturalist's Library. Mammalia Vol. II: the Natural History of Felinae. W. H. Lizars, Edinburgh.
  14. ^ John Hampden Porter (1894). "The Lion". Wild beasts; a study of the characters and habits of the elephant, lion, leopard, panther, jaguar, tiger, puma, wolf, and grizzly bear. pp. 76–135. Retrieved 2014-01-19. 
  15. ^ Kinnear, N. B. (1920). "The past and present distribution of the lion in south eastern Asia". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 27: 34–39. Retrieved 2017-02-01. 
  16. ^ Bauer, H.; Packer, C.; Funston, P.F.; Henschel, P.; Nowell, K. (2016). "Panthera leo". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T15951A115130419. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T15951A107265605.en. Retrieved 13 January 2018. 
  17. ^ Cat Specialist Group (2017). "Revised taxonomy of the Felidae. Subfamily Pantherinae". Cat News (Special Issue 11): 76. 
  18. ^ Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. "Ali". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-12. 
  19. ^ Muhammad ibn Saad. Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabair vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  20. ^ Muwatta’ Imam Malik, Book 20 (Hajj), Hadith 794

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