The Quran gives examples of some heart-wrenching retributions such as being under a canopy of sizzling smoke. Its shadow is highly suffocating and painful:
انطَلِقُوا إِلَىٰ ظِلٍّ ذِي ثَلَاثِ شُعَبٍ ﴿﴾ لَّا ظَلِيلٍ وَلَا يُغْنِي مِنَ اللَّـهَبِ ﴿﴾ إِنَّهَا تَرْمِي بِشَرَرٍ كَالْقَصْرِ ﴿﴾ كَأَنَّهُ جِمَالَتٌ صُفْ
(77:30-33) – Go on towards the threefold shadow that will offer no [cooling] shade and will be of no avail against the flame which – behold! - will throw up sparks like [burning] logs, like giant fiery ropes! [Asad]
It surrounds from three sides – left, right, and from top i.e., a retribution that surrounds them from all sides. Sometimes dust and fire storms block the Sun engulfing large areas for several days. And fine dust and smoke hang in the air causing so much pain and suffocation that many start crying that the scorching Sun was better than this shadow of scorching clouds! A shadow is normally pleasant in hot Sun, but this kind of shadow traps heat and fine dust particles causing burning sensation and suffocation.
We cannot understand through our present consciousness the forms of retribution that will happen in the Hereafter. That is the reason the Quran presents these via examples. Anyway, they will happen after death.
But rejecting or violating the part of the Deen that deals with life here, will produce its results in perceptible form here, in this world itself. And we see the destructive consequences of our transgressions every day, all around us and on various media. What is the retribution that seems to engulf the entire humanity now? It is the result of recognizing and appropriating the first part of the Deen and extending its limits further and further – that of conquering the forces of nature – but rejecting the second part dealing with universal human values; the laws of Allah contained in His book to humanity, the Quran. The result?
وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ (77:34) – Woe on that Day unto those who give the lie to the truth. [Asad]
But those who give lie to the truth again and again, divert people’s attention that this is coming from somewhere else for no reason. But this is the result of belying the laws of Allah. Then, when the destruction finally arrives, there will be no need to ask them about what crimes they committed:
هَـٰذَا يَوْمُ لَا يَنطِقُونَ ﴿﴾ وَلَا يُؤْذَنُ لَهُمْ فَيَعْتَذِرُونَ
(77:35-36) – that Day on which they will not [be able to] utter a word, nor be allowed to proffer excuses! [Asad]
If there is possibility of excuse, then what is point of justice?