¡ I swear by the Day of Resurrection.
* And I swear by the blaming soul.
1-2 Both verses begin with the particle lā, which usually indicates negation, but can also indicate an emphatic expression when taking an oath. Hence v. 2 is interpreted by some commentators to mean, “I do not swear by the blaming soul” (Aj, Sh), though the translation given reflects the predominant interpretation of lā as an emphatic particle. The blaming soul is considered the middle state of the human soul in the process of spiritual growth, between the soul that commands to evil (12:53) and the soul at peace (89:27); see 12:53c; 89:27c. It is called the blaming soul because it recognizes the shortcomings of the lower concupiscent soul and chastises it in order to transform it into the soul at peace, which returns unto the Lord content, contenting (89:28); see 89:27-30c. Every soul is believed to be capable of recognizing its shortcomings, as expressed in a ḥadīth, “There is no pious or profligate soul but that it blames itself on the Day of Resurrection; if it has done good, it says, ‘How did I not do more!’ And if it has done evil, it says, ‘Would that I had desisted!’” (Aj). Here, then, God swears by the reverent, God-fearing soul that blames itself for falling short, although it strives for obedience (Aj); a minority say, however, that it refers only to the soul of the disbeliever, which blames itself in the Hereafter (Sh). The blaming soul and the Day of Resurrection can thus be seen as intimately connected, not only by the role the quoted ḥadīth ascribes to the blaming soul on the Day of Resurrection, but also because both expose one’s faults—just as one is called to account for all of one’s lapses and shortcomings on the Day of Resurrection, so too does the blaming soul call one to account for them throughout the life of this world. Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī thus equates the blaming soul with the scrupulous soul that continually asks what it desires by its own actions (IK, Q, Sh). A minority suggest that “blaming” (lawwāmah) is related to talawwum, meaning “constantly shifting,” and indicates the fickle and capricious nature of the soul, which is happy, then sad, obedient, then disobedient, reverent, then heedless (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, al-Rūḥ, 262).