The Overthrowing

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

When the sun is overthrown,

And when the stars fall,

And when the hills are moved,

And when the camels big with young are abandoned, And when the wild beasts are herded together, And when the seas shall rise, And when souls are reunited,

And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked

For what sin she was slain,

And when the pages are laid open,

And when the sky is torn away,

And when hell is lighted,

And when the garden is brought nigh,

Then every soul will know what it has made ready.

Here nature, a celebrated constant in the world of the pre-Islamic Arabs, is completely subverted. Descriptions of the earth's final cataclysm are particularly salient in such Meccan chapters of the Qur'an. These take the form of short dramatic outbursts of rhyming prose, and stress the need to repent and recognise God before the final days. The general picture of events leading up to the day of judgement is that great earthquakes will rock the earth, setting the mountains in motion, the sky will split open and the heavens will be rolled up like scrolls of parchment. The sun will be darkened, and the oceans will boil.

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