Sura LXX — The Steps or Ascents

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

Mecca — 44 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

A SUITOR sued[158] for punishment to light suddenly

On the infidels: none can hinder

God from inflicting it, the master of those ASCENTS,

By which the angels and the spirit ascend to him in a day, whose length is fifty thousand years.[159]

Be thou patient therefore with becoming patience;

They forsooth regard that day as distant,

But we see it nigh:

The day when the heavens shall become as molten brass,

And the mountains shall become like flocks of wool:

And friend shall not question of friend,

Though they look at one another. Fain would the wicked redeem himself from punishment on that day at the price of his children,

Of his spouse and his brother,

And of his kindred who shewed affection for him,

And of all who are on the earth that then it might deliver him.

But no. For the fire,

Dragging by the scalp,

Shall claim him who turned his back and went away,

And amassed and hoarded.

Man truly is by creation hasty;

When evil befalleth him, impatient;

But when good falleth to his lot, tenacious.

Not so the prayerful,

Who are ever constant at their prayers;

And of whose substance there is a due and stated portion

For him who asketh, and for him who is ashamed[160] to beg;

And who own the judgment-day a truth,

And who thrill with dread at the chastisement of their Lord—

For there is none safe from the chastisement of their Lord—

And who control their desires,

(Save with their wives or the slaves whom their right hands have won, for there they shall be blameless;

But whoever indulge their desires beyond this are transgressors);

And who are true to their trusts and their engagements,

And who witness uprightly,

And who keep strictly the hours of prayer:

These shall dwell, laden with honours, amid gardens.

But what hath come to the unbelievers that they run at full stretch around thee,

On the right hand and on the left, in bands?

Is it that every man of them would fain enter that garden of delights?

Not at all. We have created them, they know of what.

It needs not that I swear by the Lord of the East and of the West[161] that we have power.

To replace them with better than themselves: neither are we to be hindered.

Wherefore let them flounder on and disport them, till they come face to face with their threatened day,

The day on which they shall flock up out of their graves in haste like men who rally to a standard:—

Their eyes downcast; disgrace shall cover them. Such their threatened day.



[158] Lit. asking one asked; probably some unbeliever, with reference to the opening of Sura lvi., p. 60, or like statements in some previous Sura.

[159] The expression is hyperbolical, and, as such, identical with Sura [lxx.] xxxii. 4. Compare also Sura xcvii., p. 37. where the descent is said to take place in a single night.

[160] Lit. forbidden or prevented by shame.

[161] See next Sura. v. 16.