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The Day that the shin shall be laid bare, and they shall be summoned to bow in adoration, but they shall not be able,-

This is the literal translation of the Qur’anic phrase used here. The exegetes have
explained it in two different ways. Some of them are of the view that, according to
the Arabic usage, ‘exposure of the shin’ is an idiomatic expression for a severe
state of distress. When a person is confronted with such a distress, he normally
lays his shins bare. Therefore, exposure of the shin has been taken as indicative
of such a state. Given this interpretation, the verse means that on the day when
the disbelievers will face the severe distress, they will be called upon to prostrate
themselves, but they will not be able to do so, because their backs will be made
flat, with no elasticity to bow down. Some other commentators, however, take the
phrase in its literal sense. They say that the ‘Shin’ referred to here is the Shin of
Allah Ta’ala, which is one of His attributes, the exact nature of which is neither
known to anybody, nor discoverable in this world. (But obviously, it is not like the
shins of human beings). According to this interpretation, the verse means that, at
some stage on the Day of Judgment, Allah Ta’ala will expose this attribute of His
which is called ‘Shin’, and they will be called upon to prostrate before it. This
interpretation is supported by an authentic hadith reported by Bukhari and


Shafi, Muhammad (2008). Maariful Quran. (Vol .8 surah 68 verse 42)English-MaarifulQuran-MuftiShafiUsmaniRA-Vol-8.pdf (

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