What does the phrase “The Day when Children will be hoary-headed” mean (73:17)? Does this just mean that children’s hair will start turning gray as a sign of the Last Day?
The descriptions of Judgment Day in general indicate heavy catastrophe and disaster upon disaster. Why the need to make the Day of Judgment so full of distress for mankind? Is it really necessary that mountains be tossed around like carded wool or that people scatter about because of a deafening noise? Is this just God’s Wrath at work or does this imply that, when the Hour arrives, mankind will be so depraved and wicked as a whole that these calamities will serve as a sort of punishment?
In my opinion, a more accurate translation of the referred verse should be:
… a day, which will render the children, white-haired.
‘Rendering children, white-haired’ is an idiom, which implies extreme stress and anxiety. The verse is not referring to any signs of the Day of Judgment, but is mentioning the situation, the mental trauma and the anxiety of humans, who shall be awaiting the declaration of their results and their eternal fate.
The heavy catastrophe and disaster, which you have referred to is not presented as a part of the events of the Day of Judgment. On the contrary, it is referred to as the events leading to the Day of Judgment. To fully understand this point, one should keep in mind that, according to the Qur’an, one day, this whole universe will come to a physical end. Everything on the face of the earth will be destroyed. After this all-encompassing destruction, God will create a new physical world and then raise the dead for the Judgment Day. The all-encompassing catastrophe referred to at various instances in the Qur’an is actually a reference to the beginning of the end of this physical world, after which a new physical world shall be created for the Day of Judgment.
April 29, 2001