Quranic Reflection No. 409. Ayat 54:7 – Emerging from the grave

خُشَّعًا أَبْصَارُهُمْ يَخْرُجُونَ مِنَ الْأَجْدَاثِ كَأَنَّهُمْ جَرَادٌ مُنْتَشِرٌ
Khushsha‘an absārahum yakhrujūna minal-ajdāthi ka-annahum jarādun muntashir
They will emerge from the graves as if they were scattered locusts with their eyes cast down.
(Sūrat al-Qamar No.54, Āyat 7)

Many verses of the Quran describe the Day of Judgment in vivid detail. Believers can visualize the happenings of that Day and keep themselves on track by the images of their upcoming accounting very clear in their mind. One of the function of the descriptions of the Day of Judgement is to remind believers of their accountability before Allah ‘azza wa-jall. The just system He has created will ensure that everyone receives the consequences of their deeds.

This verse describes the state of the people as they come out of their graves for the Day of Judgement. It gives two details about them:
1. Their eyes will be cast down. The word ‘khushsha‘an’ refers to a form of humility which will be evident in the eyes. They will be awestruck with the happenings of that Day and will have lost all the pride they might have had in the world. They will have no control over what happens to them. This helplessness will humble them completely.
2. They will emerge like scattered locusts. This analogy reveals that like locusts, human beings on that day will swarm around, moving in large numbers but without focus or direction. Groups within them will merge with one another and keep moving.

Imam Ali (a) describes this scene very powerfully in Nahjul Balagha:
They are emulating each other and proceeding in groups towards the final objective and the rendezvous of death, till when matters come to a close, the world dies and resurrection draws near. Allah would take them out from the corners of the graves, the nests of birds, the dens of beasts and the centers of death. They hasten towards His command and run towards the place fixed for their final return group by group, quiet, standing and arrayed in rows. They will be within Allah’s sight and will hear every one who would call them. They will have the dress of helplessness and covering of submission and indignity. (At this time) contrivances would disappear, desires would be cut, hearts would sink quietly, voices would be curbed down, sweat would choke the throat, fear would increase and ears would resound with the thundering voice of the announcer calling towards the final judgement, award of recompense, striking of punishment and paying of reward (Sermon 83).

Many other verses also similarly describe the state of human beings on that day. The Quran says: The day when they emerge from graves, hastening, as if racing toward a target, with a humbled look [in their eyes], overcast by abasement. That is the day they had been promised (Q 70:43-44). And in Sūra Hajj: The day that . . .  you will see the people drunk, yet they will not be drunken, but Allah’s punishment is severe (Q 22:3).

Reflecting on why the Day of Judgement will have such an effect on the human being, Tafsīr Namūne brings up the following points:
1. When receiving the book of deeds the wrong doers will feel intense regret for not having lived life on earth differently.
2. There will be nothing small or large that will be left out of everyone’s personal record. Many things long forgotten will be brought up on that day, filling people with shame and humiliation.
3. There will be no chance for forgiveness or clemency on that day. The opportunity for that was in the world. With death that was closed.
4. The tangible consequence of deeds on that day will be enormous. It will be an eternal life, not limited by space and time as when in the world.

This verse, and others like it, remind us that we cannot be oblivious of the Day of Judgement. It is a reality without which there is not much meaning to life on earth. Believing in it and preparing for that day makes sense. May God protect us from being among those mentioned in these verses!

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh
‘Abd Ali b. Jumu’ah al-‘Arusi al-Huwayzi, Tafsīr Nūr al-Thaqalayn.