86:1 CONSIDER the heaven and the Night-Visitor!
86:1 As with many other sūrahs in this part of the Qur’ān, it begins with a reflective divine oath ‘wa’, often used to point out certain truth, in this instance certainty of Awakening and truth of the Qur’ān. The sūrah derives its title from the word tāriq, traditionally interpreted to mean night visitor. The word is derived from taraqa meaning to beat something, to pound, to knock. Tāriq is one who comes by night and knocks on the door since the doors are closed. The Qur’ān defines tāriq as a star of piercing radiance (v. 3). Based on this meaning most of the early commentators tried to identify a specific brilliant star in the sky as the tāriq, however often disagreeing and contradicting it with Saturn, North Star (Polaris) or Morning Star (Venus). Since the Qur’ān does not specifically refer to any particular star, at-tāriq is evidently used as a metaphor of brilliant divine guidance appearing in midst of spiritual darkness across the Arabia. Given that the sūrah is one of the very early Makkan revelations, figuratively at-tāriq may have symbolized the Prophet who appeared at the time of spiritual darkness and went knocking on the door of peoples’ conscience to cause revival of the spiritually dead Arabia.