Surah Al-Dukhan

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The Smoke


Name of Chapter and Reason for its Name

This chapter is called Surah Al-Dukhaan and has been named after its 10th verse which is translated as follows, “So watch out for the day when the sky brings on a manifest smoke.” The chapter has been named after the usage of the word “smoke” in this verse which is an indicator of the Day of Judgement.

Chapter Number

Surah Al-Dukhaan is the 44th chapter of the Quran and chronologically speaking, it was revealed after Surah Al-Zukhruf. [1]

Number of Verses

Some exegetes believe this chapter to have 57 verses, while other exegetes have quoted the number of verses to be 59. [2] [3] [4]

Place of Revelation

Surah al-Dukhaan is a Makki chapter. [5] [6] [7]


Important Concepts in this Chapter

Verses 1-8

Swearing upon the guidance of the Quran, clarification that the Quran was sent from Allah, and an explanation concerning the time of revelation.

The intended meaning of the words, “blessed night” in the 3rd verse, “Indeed We sent it down on a ‘blessed night,’ and indeed We have been warning [mankind]” is the Night of Ordainment (the Night of Power). [6] [8] This means that the beginning of revelation was during the Night of Ordainment. The singular pronoun “it” in the 4th verse, “Every definitive matter is resolved in it” refers to the blessed night previously mentioned. The solving of all of the definitive matters here refers to clarifying the teachings and laws of the Quran.

Verses 9-33

The ingratitude and doubt of the servants of Allah in relation to monotheism, the punishment of the ungrateful ones such as the people of Pharaoh, and the rescue of the Israelites from the Pharaoh.

The plural pronoun “they” in the 9th verse, “Rather they play around in doubt” refers to the followers of the Holy Prophet who are busy introducing doubts and suspicions in their beliefs. In verses 10-11, “So watch out for the day when the sky brings on a manifest smoke, enveloping the people” is indicative of Allah’s promise, meaning that the people should be ready for a day upon which such a manifest smoke will pour from the sky to envelop everyone. [9] Also, in verse 12, “(They will say) Our Lord! Remove from us this punishment. Indeed we have believed,” is indicative of the disbelievers who will claim to be believers when the punishment of Allah will envelop them on the Day of Judgement.

Verses 37-59

Discussion concerning the people of Tubba, and a description of heaven and hell.

This set of verses, after discussing instances of Allah’s punishment on this earth, such as the punishment of the people of the Pharaoh and Tubba, turns to pursue the subject of punishments in the hereafter by discussing the fine details of such chastisements in order to serve as a warning. These verses, such as verses 34-35 which say: “Indeed these ones say, ‘It will be just our first death, and we shall not be resurrected’” indicate that the punishments discussed will be for those who deny the hereafter. [10]

The people of Tubba were related to one of the kings of the Himyarite kingdom named Asad Abu Karb. [11] However, some believe that these people were the Sabaeans. [12] Also the intended meaning of “food of the sinful” in the verses 43-44, “Indeed the tree of Zaqqum will be the food of the sinful”, is that Zaqqum will specifically be the food of the sinful, those who were sinners through their actions and speech, such as Abu Jahl. The verse however, is not specific to him only, rather anyone who is sinful will bear this punishment. It has also been mentioned that Zaqqum will be the food of those who were immoral, and there will not be any other punishment for such people apart from this. Zaqqum has been described as such that if one drop of it was to fall on the earth, then it would destroy the entire world, or it has also been described as oil that is brought to a boil while it is inside the stomach of a disbeliever. [13]

Discussions on this Chapter

According to the Sunni Traditions

Benefits of Reciting this Surah

عن أبی سلمة عن أبی عن أبی هریرة رضی اللّه عنه قال: قال رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم: من قرأ حم الدخان فی لیلة أصبح یستغفر له سبعون ألف ملک

Narrated from Abu Salmah, from Abu Hurayrah that he quotes the Prophet as having said, “Whosoever recites the first verse of Surah al-Dukhaan during the night, 70 000 angels will repent upon his behalf.” [14]

Verses 10-11: “So watch out for the day when the sky brings on a manifest smoke, enveloping the people. [They will cry out:] ‘This is a painful punishment.’”

فَٱرۡتَقِبۡ يَوۡمَ تَأۡتِي ٱلسَّمَآءُ بِدُخَانٖ مُّبِينٖ ١٠ يَغۡشَى ٱلنَّاسَۖ هَٰذَا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٞ ١١ عن ربعی بن خراش قال: سمعت حذیفة بن الیمان رضی اللّه عنه یقول: قال رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم: إن أول الآیات الدجال و نزول عیسی ابن مریم علیهما الصلاة و السلام، و نار تخرج من قعر عدن أبین تسوق الناس إلی المحشر تقیل معهم إذا قالوا، و الدخان- قال حذیفة رضی اللّه عنه یا رسول اللّه و ما الدخان؟ فتلا رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم هذه الآیة فَارْتَقِبْ یوْمَ تَأْتِی السَّماءُ بِدُخانٍ مُبِینٍ یغْشَی النَّاسَ هذا عَذابٌ أَلِیمٌ- یملأ ما بین المشرق و المغرب یمکث أربعین یوما و لیلة، أما المؤمن فیصیبه منه کهیئة الزکمة، و أما الکافر فیکون بمنزلة السکران یخرج من منخریه و أذنیه و دبره

Rabi ibn Kharrash says that he heard Huzayfah ibn al-Yamaan say that the Prophet said: “The first things among the signs of the Day of Judgement are: the appearance of the Dajjal, the return of Isa ibn Maryam, and a fire which will emerge from the bottom of Aden and will drive the people into a crowd which will disappear when they say, ‘By the smoke.’” Huzayfah then asked the Prophet, “O Messenger of Allah, and what is that smoke?” The Prophet recited the following verse in reply, “So watch out for the day when the sky will bring on a manifest smoke, enveloping the people [and they will cry out]: ‘This is a painful punishment,’ and the smoke will fill the east and the west and will remain for 40 days and nights. As for a believer, the smoke will be like a common cold for him. However, as for the disbeliever, it will be as if he is in a state of intoxication, and the smoke will come out of his nostrils, ears and anus.” [15]

عن أبی مالک الأشعری رضی اللّه عنه قال: قال رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم: «إن ربکم أنذرکم ثلاثا: الدخان یأخذ المؤمن کالزکمة، و یأخذ الکافر فینتفخ حتی یخرج من کل مسمع منه، و الثانیة الدابة و الثالثة الدجال»

Abu Maalik al-Ashary quotes the Prophet who said: “Surely your Lord has warned you about three things - the smoke that will take a believer like the common cold, but will engulf a disbeliever and will swell inside of them until it comes out of their ears; the second is the animal (that will inform people about their disbelief); and the third is the Dajjal.” [15]

Verse 29: “And neither the heaven nor the earth shed a tear over them, nor were they given a respite.”

فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَاءُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنْظَرِينَ٢٩ حدثنی أنس بن مالک رضی اللّه عنه عن النبی صلی اللّه علیه و سلم قال: «ما من عبد إلا و له فی السماء بابان: باب یخرج منه رزقه، و باب یدخل منه عمله و کلامه، فإذا مات فقداه و بکیا علیه».

Anas ibn Maalik quotes the Prophet who said: “There is no slave (of Allah) except that there exists two doors in the sky for him - a door from which his sustenance exists, and a door into which his actions and speech enter. Upon dying, the doors lose him and cry upon him.” [15]

عن صفوان بن عمرو عن شریح بن عبید الحضرمی قال: قال رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم: «إن الإسلام بدأ غریبا و سیعود غریبا کما بدأ. ألا لا غربة علی مؤمن، ما مات مؤمن فی غربة غابت عنه فی‌ها بواکیه إلا بکت علیه السماء و الأرض» ثم قرأ رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم فَما بَکتْ عَلَیهِمُ السَّماءُ وَ الْأَرْضُ ثم قال: «إنهما لا یبکیان علی الکافر».

Safwan ibn Amr narrates from Sharih ibn Ubayd al-Hadhrami who said that the Prophet said: “Surely Islam began alone and will soon become alone again just as it started. Beware though that there is no loneliness for a believer. There is not a believer who dies alone and his cries are not heard except that the sky and earth cry upon him.” Then the Prophet recited the verse, “So neither the sky wept for them, nor the earth; nor were they granted any respite,” then he said, “Surely they do not cry upon disbelievers.” [16]

Verse 37: “What! Are they better than the people of Tubba and those who were before them? We destroyed them because they were guilty of sin.”

أَهُمْ خَيْرٌ أَمْ قَوْمُ تُبَّعٍ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ٣٧ عن عکرمة عن ابن عباس رضی اللّه عنهما عن النبی صلی اللّه علیه و سلم قال: «لا تسبوا تبعا فإنه قد أسلم»

Akramah quotes Ibn Abbas from the Prophet who said: “Do not curse a person of Tubba for surely he submitted (to Allah).” [17]

Verse 49-50: “Taste you (this)! Verily, you were (pretending to be) the mighty, the generous! Verily, this is what you used to doubt.”

ذُقْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْكَرِيمُ٤٩ إِنَّ هَذَا مَا كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ٥٠ حدثنا أبو بکر الهذلی عن عکرمة قال: لقی رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم أبا جهل لعنه اللّه فقال: «إن اللّه تعالی أمرنی أن أقول لک، أَوْلی لَک فَأَوْلی ثُمَّ أَوْلی لَک فَأَوْلی [القیامة: ۳۴- ۳۵] قال: فنزع ثوبه من یده و قال: ما تستطیع لی أنت و لا صاحبک من شی‌ء، و لقد علمت أنی أمنع أهل البطحاء و أنا العزیز الکریم، قال فقتله اللّه یوم بدر و أذله و عیره بکلمته و أنزل: ذُقْ إِنَّک أَنْتَ الْعَزِیزُ الْکرِیمُ. و قوله عز و جل: إِنَّ هذا ما کنْتُمْ بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ کقوله تعالی: یوْمَ یدَعُّونَ إِلی نارِ جَهَنَّمَ دَعًّا هذِهِ النَّارُ الَّتِی کنْتُمْ بِها تُکذِّبُونَ أَ فَسِحْرٌ هذا أَمْ أَنْتُمْ لا تُبْصِرُونَ [الطور: ۱۳- ۱۵] و لهذا قال تعالی هاهنا: إِنَّ هذا ما کنْتُمْ بِهِ تَمْتَرُونَ.

Abu Bakr al-Hadhli reported to us from Akramah who said that the Prophet encountered Abu Jahl (may Allah’s curse be upon him) and said, “Surely Allah ordered me to say to you, ‘So woe to you! Woe to you! Again, woe to you! Woe to you!’” (Surah al-Qiyamah, Verse 35) Then Abu Jahl lifted his hand from his thobe and said, “You and your Lord cannot do anything to me. You already know that I can prevent the people of Mecca from interacting with you; I am the almighty and distinguished.” He was then killed on the day of Badr and was degraded and reproached by his own words by the verse, ‘Taste you (this)! Verily, you were (pretending to be) the mighty, the generous.’ This is similar to the verses, ‘The day when they will be shoved towards the fire of hell forcibly, [and told:] ‘This is the fire which you used to deny! Is this then magic, or is it you who do not perceive?’’(Surah al-Toor, Verses 13-15) This is why Allah revealed the verse, ‘Verily, this is what you used to doubt!’” (Surah al-Dukhaan, Verse 50) [13]

Verse 56: “They will never taste death therein except the first death (of this world), and He will save them from the torment of the blazing Fire.”

لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْتَ إِلَّا الْمَوْتَةَ الْأُولَى وَوَقَاهُمْ عَذَابَ الْجَحِيمِ٥٦ عن عبید اللّه بن عمرو عن أبی هریرة رضی اللّه عنه قال: قال رسول اللّه صلی اللّه علیه و سلم: من اتقی اللّه دخل الجنة ینعم فی‌ها و لا یبأس و یحیا فی‌ها فلا یموت، لا تبلی ثیابه، و لا یفنی شبابه

Ubaydallah ibn Amr narrates from Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet who said: “Whoever is conscious of Allah will enter heaven. He will be blessed in it, will not be miserable, and will live in it without dying. His clothes will not deteriorate and his youthfulness will not perish.” [17] According to the Shia Traditions Benefis of Reciting this Surah

وَ روی أَبُو حَمْزَةَ الثمالی عَنْ أبی جَعْفَرٍ قَالَ مَنْ قَرَأَ سُورَةَ الدُّخَانِ فی فَرَائِضِهِ وَ نَوَافِلِهِ بَعَثَهُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الآمنین یوم القیامة وَ أَظَلَّهُ تَحْتَ ظِلِّ عَرْشِهِ وَ حَاسَبَهُ حِسَاباً یسیرا وَ أعطی کتابه بیمینه

Abu Hamzah al-Thumali narrates from Abu Jafar who said: “Whoever recites Surah al-Dukhaan in his obligatory prayers and recommended prayers, Allah will raise him among the protected ones on the Day of Judgement, He will shade him under the shade of His throne, will reckon him with an easy reckoning and give his book of deeds to him in his right hand.” [18]

Verses 3-4: “Indeed We sent it down on a blessed night, surely We are ever warning, Therein every wise affair is made distinct.”

إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ إِنَّا كُنَّا مُنْذِرِينَ٣ فِيهَا يُفْرَقُ كُلُّ أَمْرٍ حَكِيمٍ٤ عن الفضیل و زرارة و محمد بن مسلم عن حمران أَنَّهُ سَأَلَ أَبَا جَعْفَرٍ عَنْ قَوْلِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ- إِنَّا أَنْزَلْناهُ فِی لَیلَةٍ مُبارَکةٍ قَالَ نَعَمْ لَیلَةُ الْقَدْرِ وَ هِی فِی کلِّ سَنَةٍ فِی شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ فِی الْعَشْرِ الْأَوَاخِرِ فَلَمْ ینْزَل الْقُرْآنُ إِلَّا فِی لَیلَةِ الْقَدْرِ قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ- فی‌ها یفْرَقُ کلُّ أَمْرٍ حَکیمٍ قَالَ یقَدَّرُ فِی لَیلَةِ الْقَدْرِ کلُّ شَی‌ءٍ یکونُ فِی تِلْک السَّنَةِ إِلَی مثل‌ها مِنْ قَابِلٍ خَیرٍ وَ شَرٍّ- وَ طَاعَةٍ وَ مَعْصِیةٍ وَ مَوْلُود وَ أَجَلٍ أَوْ رِزْقٍ فَمَا قُدِّرَ فِی تِلْک السَّنَةِ وَ قُضِی فَهُوَ الْمَحْتُومُ وَ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ فِیهِ الْمَشِیئَة.

Fudhayl and Zurarah and Muhammad ibn Muslim narrate from Hamran who asked Abu Jafar about the verse: “Indeed We sent it down on a blessed night.” He answered, “Yes, the night of ordainment occurs every year in the month of Ramadhan during the last ten days. The Quran was not revealed except during the night of ordainment. During that night Allah separates all of the wise matters and decrees everything that will occur during the next year – such as the good things, bad things, acts of obedience, acts of disobedience, births, deaths and sustenance. There is nothing that is predestined during that year that is carried out except that it is determined by Allah and He has volition over it.” [19]

Verse 29: “So the heaven and the earth did not weep for them, nor were they respited.”

فَمَا بَكَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ السَّمَاءُ وَالْأَرْضُ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنْظَرِينَ٢٩ روی زرارة بن أعین عن أبی عبد الله أنه قال: بَکتِ السَّمَاءُ عَلَی یحْیی بْنِ زَکرِیا وَ عَلَی الْحُسَینِ بْنِ عَلِی أَرْبَعِینَ صَبَاحاً وَ لَمْ تَبْک إِلَّا عَلَیهِمَا قُلْتُ فَمَا بُکاؤُهَا قَالَ کانَتِ الشَّمْسُ تَطْلُعُ حَمْرَاءَ وَ تَغِیبُ حَمْرَاءَ.

Zurarah ibn Ayun narrates from Abu Abdillah who said: “The sky cried over Yahya ibn Zakariyyah and Husayn ibn Ali for 40 mornings during which time it did not cry except only for them.” I said, “What was their form of crying?” He replied, “The sun would set and rise red.” [20] فی الفقیه، عن الصادق قال: إِذَا مَاتَ الْمُؤْمِنُ بَکتْ عَلَیهِ بِقَاعُ الْأَرْضِ الَّتِی کانَ یعْبُدُ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ فی‌ها وَ الْبَابُ الَّذِی کانَ یصْعَدُ مِنْهُ عَمَلُهُ وَ مَوْضِعُ سُجُودِهِ. It has been narrated in the book Man la Yahdurhu al-Faqih by Shaykh al-Sadooq that Imam al-Sadiq said, “When a believer dies, the parts of the earth in which he worshipped Allah cry upon him, the door through which his actions ascended cry upon him, and the places where he prostrated also cry upon him.” [20]

Verse 37: “Are they better or the people of Tubba and those before them? We destroyed them, for surely they were guilty.”

أَهُمْ خَيْرٌ أَمْ قَوْمُ تُبَّعٍ وَالَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ أَهْلَكْنَاهُمْ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ+٣٧ روی الولید بن صبیح عن أبی عبد الله قال: إِنَّ تُبَّعاً قَالَ لِلْأَوْسِ وَ الْخَزْرَجِ کونُوا هَاهُنَا حَتَّی یخْرُجَ هَذَا النَّبِی أَمَّا أَنَا لَوْ أَدْرَکتُهُ لَخَدَمْتُهُ وَ لَخَرَجْتُ مَعَهُ.

Walid ibn Sabih narrates from Abu Abdillah who said, “Tubba said to the Aws and Khazraj, ‘Remain hear until this Prophet comes; if I was to see him, then I would help him and accompany him.’” [20]

Verses 40 and 42: “Verily, the Day of Decision is the promised time appointed for all of them… Save those on whom Allah shall have mercy; surely He is the Mighty, the Merciful.”

إِنَّ يَوْمَ الْفَصْلِ مِيقَاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ٤٠ …إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ اللَّهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الرَّحِيمُ٤٢ فی الکافی، بإسناده عن زید الشحام قال: قَالَ لِی أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ وَ نَحْنُ فِی الطَّرِیقِ فِی لَیلَةِ الْجُمُعَةِ اقْرَأْ فَإِنَّهَا لَیلَةُ الْجُمُعَةِ قُرْآناً فَقَرَأْتُ إِنَّ یوْمَ الْفَصْلِ کانَ مِیقاتُهُمْ أَجْمَعِینَ. یوْمَ لا یغْنِی مَوْلًی عَنْ مَوْلًی شَیئاً وَ لا هُمْ ینْصَرُونَ. إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ اللَّهُ فَقَالَ أَبُو عَبْدِ اللَّهِ نَحْنُ وَ اللَّهِ الَّذِی رَحِمَ اللَّهُ وَ نَحْنُ وَ اللَّهِ الَّذِی اسْتَثْنَی اللَّهُ لَکنَّا نُغْنِی عَنْهُمْ.

It has been narrated in Al-Kafi from Zayd al-Shahham who said, “Abu Abdillah said to me while we were travelling on a Friday eve, ‘Read the Quran - for surely it is the eve of Friday.’ So I read the verse, ‘Verily the Day of Decision is the promised time appointed for all of them , the day when a friend will not avail a friend in any way, nor will they be helped, except for him on whom Allah has mercy.’ Thereafter he said: “By Allah, we are the ones whom Allah has mercy upon, and by Allah, we are the ones whom Allah has made an exception for even though we are needless of any exceptions.” [21]


  1. Mahmud Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil (1986), Volume 4, Page 269
  2. Ismail ibn Umar ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim (1998), Volume 7, Page 225
  3. Fadhl ibn Hasan Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran (1988), Volume 9, Page 91
  4. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran (1971), Volume 18, Page 129
  5. Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Page 269
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 225
  7. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 129
  8. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 130
  9. Ibid., Page 139
  10. Ibid., Page 144
  11. Ibid., Page 146
  12. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 236
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ibid., Page 239
  14. Ibid., Page 225
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Ibid., Page 228
  16. Ibid., Page 233
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ibid., Page 238
  18. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 91
  19. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 134
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Ibid., Page 142
  21. Ibid., Page 152