Bi ismillahir rahmanir raheem
67. Surat al-Mulk (The
The tafsir of this sura is a compilation derived from the sources mentioned
in Surat at-Tawba and Surat an-Nur, as well as a few additions.
This is a Makkan sura which was sent down after at-Tur (52) and before
al-Haqqa ( 69). It has various names. As well being called
al-Mulk, it is also called al-Waqiya (the Protector),
al-Munjiyya (the Rescuer), and al-Mâni'a (the Defender)
because it protects the one who knows it and rescues him from the punishment
and defends him during the Rising. It is also called al-Mujadila (the
Arguer) because it argues on behalf of the one who knows it when he is the
grave. Numerous hadiths have mentioned its excellence.
It is related in a hadith from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to recite this sura
every night when he went to bed and he said, "It rescues people from the
punishment of the grave."
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "There is a
sura of the Book which only has thirty ayats which will intercede
for a man on the Day of Rising and will bring him out of the Fire and make
him enter the Garden. It is Surat Tabarak (meaning al-Mulk)."
Ibn 'Abbas said, "One of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah pitched
his tent on a grave without knowing that it was a grave, and it contained
a man who was reciting 'Blessed is He who has the Kingdom in His hand.'
He went and told the Prophet who said, 'It is the defender. It is the
protector which is protecting him from Allah's punishment.' The Messenger
of Allah further said, "I wish that 'Tabarak' could be in the heart
of every believer."
It is related that if someone recites it every night, he will not be harmed
by the tempter (fattân). "Fattân" is used for various
things. It means Shaytans who tempts people and makes disobeying Allah
attractive. It is used for the dirham and the dinar, meaning money, which
tempts people. It is used for the angels Munkar and Nakir who question the
dead in the graves. It is also used for a highwayman who attacks travellers
on the road.
|1 Blessed be He who has the Kingdom in His Hand!
He has power over all things.
"Blessed" (tabaraka) is a verbal form derived from a word meaning
blessing (baraka). It is said that it means something which is exalted,
holy or lasting. Allah is the Lasting (dâ'im) whose existence
has no beginning and whose everlastingness has no end. This expression,
"tabaraka" is particular to Allah Almighty and it is not used in the
present tense, but only in the past. Allah is exalted above all the attributes
of creatures who are located in time and exalted above all else in His Essence,
Attributes and Actions. As He says, "There is nothing like Him." Some
commentators say that this means that He is beyond annihilation or alteration.
The form "tabaraka" indicates His perfection and immensity. Another
example of this verb form which is only used for Allah is ta'ala,
We can look at the root of this verb and its meaning in two ways. There is
the root burûk which means continuance or remaining. It is used
to refer to birds remaining at water, to someone being firm and ready for
fighting, and to someone who does not move where he is. This quality of being
permanent reflects Allah's everlastingness. The other root is blessing or
baraka. It is a blessing, either physical or spiritual, which continues,
increases and abounds. So there is blessing which abides and ever increases.
So Allah is abundant in good and exceeds everything in His continual goodness
. As He says elsewhere: "All favour is in the Hand of Allah. He gives
it to anyone He wills. Allah 's favour is indeed immense." (57:28)
"He who has the Kigndom in His hand" means the sovereignty or kingdom
of the heavens and the earth, this world and the Next. It is said that it
means the King of kings in this world, as you say, "the master of the kingdom."
The first is more general and encompassing. He abases or exalts whomever
He wills, He gives life and makes die, enriches and makes poor, gives and
withholds. It is also said by some that He has the dominion of prophethood
by which He exalts those who follow it and abases those who oppose it. He
has the control of affairs. As He says elsewhere: "They do not measure
Allah with His true measure. The whole earth will be a mere handful for Him
on the Day of Rising, the heavens folded up in His right hand." (39:64)
In Arabic "hand" (yad) designates authority and power. Allah has the
power to bless and take revenge. Commentators say that yad refers
to Allah's power (qudra) which is His attribute without interpretation
or qualification. His power is beyond description or limitation. In this
context, Abu Hurayra reported in a sound hadith that the Messenger
of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah's hand is
full, undiminished by any expenditure since He created the heaven and the
earth, for what His hand holds has not decreased. His Throne was upon the
water, and in His hand the scale which He lowers and raises."
Mulk means sovereignty, kingship, dominion, and it is means ownership.
It usually refers to this world, the physical world of bodies, whereas
Malakut refers to the dominion of the unseen as He says, "Glory
be to Him who has the Dominion (malakût) of all things in His Hand."
"He has power over all things" defines His power - it extends
to all things without limit. It reinforces the first sentence.
|2 He who created death and life
to test which of you is best in action.
He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving.
Then Allah begins to go into the details of some aspects of His power and
dominion over His subjects. "He who created death and life" can
be taken to refer to the death and life of creatures. It is also said that
it refers to the death of this world because its people will die while the
life of the Next World will endure, as Allah says, "The Abode of the Next
World is the Living." Death is lifelessness.
Allah begins by detailing some of the judgements of the kingdom and the
consequences of power. Death and life are also part of His creation. There
is an indication of the disparity between His everlastingness and creature's
in-timeness. The use of "tabaraka" in the previous ayat indicates
Allah's abiding and everlasting life whereas here He says, "He created
life" which is the life of the creatures, which is temporal and dependent
on Him. His life is not subject to end. The life and death of creatures is
an event located in time.
Death is mentioned before life because death is older. In their beginnings
things were under the jurisdiction of death, as sperm or the earth is initially
lifeless. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
said, "Allah Almighty abased the sons of Adam by death and made this world
an abode of life and then an abode of death. He made the Next World an abode
of repayment and then an abode of abiding."
Abu'-d-Darda' said, "If it had not been for three things, the sons of Adam
would not have bowed their heads: poverty, illness and death. But in spite
of that, he leaps up." Or it can refer to death in this world and eternal
life in the Next.
It is also said that death precedes life because the strongest of people
in seeking action is the one who keeps death before his eyes. He concentrates
on immediate action because he knows that the domain of action will soon
end and the Reckoning will take place. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet
said, "Remember the cutter-off of delights, death." He also said, "In the
evening do not expect to see the evening, and morning do not expect to se
the evening, but take something when in health to serve you in time of illness
and something in your life to serve you in your death."
Scholars state that the definition of death is not pure non-existence nor
the obliteration of action. Death is the severance of the connection of the
spirit to the body and a transference from one abode to another abode. So
death is not the final end, but a transformation. The means of death is the
Angel of Death. But in reality, it is Allah who makes die.
"To test which of you" means test you while you are alive.
Allah's testing of His slaves is done in order to establish the proof against
them by their own actions, although Allah knows beforehand what they will
do. The meaning of the ayat is: "He will try you in order to repay
you for what you do". A person is tested by the death of those who are dear
to him to see whether he will be steadfast and by life to see whether he
will be thankful for Allah's blessings. He says elsewhere: "We will test
you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life
and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: the people who, when disaster
strikes them, say, 'We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.' They are
the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord. They are the
ones who are the guided." (2:155-157)
He also tests your resolve, as He says elsewhere: "We will test you until
We know the true fighters among you and those who are steadfast and test
what is reported of you." (47:31)
It is said that He created death for resurrection and repayment, and life
for testing. The noun from which "test" is derived is "balwa" which
is a test or a trial with either something good or evil or ascertain what
the quality of the thing tested. Allah knows what is inside His slaves, but
this testing brings it out into the open so that there can be no argument
"Which of you is best in action." It is related that the Messenger
of Allah recited it and said, "It refers to which of you is the best in action,
strongest in fear of Allah, most scrupulous about the forbidden things of
Allah and swiftest in obeying Allah."
The use of the Divine Names, the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving reflects the
two results - might used against those who reject and forgiveness towards
those who believe.
|3 He who created the seven heavens in layers.
You will not find any flaw
in the creation of the All-Merciful.
Look again – do you see any gaps?
Allah continues to mention aspects of His power and the creation in which
life and death are found. He mentions "the seven heavens in layers"
or in strata, meaning on top of one another. The word "tibaq"
is a verbal noun which describes the heavens, or it is related to something
elided, implying: "with levers." It is said to be the plural of
tabaqa. The Throne lies beyond them. Traditionally this is said to
refer to the seven heavens of the Greeks, but could equally apply to the
layers of the atmosphere. The verb reflects covering, and can be used for
clouds covering the sky and rain covering the earth, It also has to do with
things being adjacent and touching.
"You will not find any flaw in the creation of the All-Merciful"
means any lack of proportion or any weakness. The meaning is that
He created the heavens in the limit of perfection. It is said that He means
the creation of all created things. There is no doubt that all creatures
are perfect, but the ayat is particular to the creation of the heavens
which is more evident since it comes after His words, "He created the
seven heavens in layers." So it is clear that His words, "You will
not find any flaw in the creation of the Merciful" clarifies and completes
what is before it. It means that nothing is neglected or beyond His reach.
It is said that this means something about which a person could say, "If
it were thus, it would have been better." You cannot improve upon creation.
Nothing in it is discordant. "Do you see?" and "Look again" is addressed
to the Prophet, or to everyone who is addressed to take note.
"Look again - do you see any gaps?" Discordance is gaps, and
it is the plural of fatr, which is a split. "Look again" is
literally "return the look". The meaning of the ayat is to look at that heaven.
No gaps or rifts will be seen in it. "Gaps" is futûr, the plural
of fatr. It is level and connected. Now that you have this information,
then look again. It also infers to reflect after you have looked and
|4 Then look again and again.
Your sight will return to you
dazzled and exhausted!
"Then look again and again" means investigate after looking
so as to confirm and realise the consequences of what you see. Az-Zamakhshari
said that the doubling means to do it a lot, not just twice, as they say,
"Labbayk" which is answering a lot. The words used is basar
which means both the eye and the faculty of seeing and understanding what
"Your sight will return to you dazzled and exhausted."
"Dazzled" means to be far from the thing which is sought. It is used
of a dog which is driven off in contempt. It is also used of the Jews who
violated the Sabbath and were transformed into apes: "When they were insolent
concerning what they had been forbidden to do, We said to them, 'Be apes,
despised, cast out!'" (7:166)
"Exhausted" refers to a weary person who is overcome by exhaustion. The meaning
of the ayat is that if you look at the heaven time after time to seek
out gaps in it or imperfection, your glance will return not having seen any
of that, and so it will be worn out because it has not obtained what you
sought of locating gaps and imperfections. In addition, it will be tired
from looking often and reflecting often. It carries a sense of grief because
of having missed something. An animal is in this state when it becomes so
tired that it cannot go on and so it must be left behind. But the Prophet
said, "Supplicate to Allah and do not become weary." It implies smallness
and abasement and regret as hasra means grief or regret for the loss
|5 We have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps
and made some of them stones for the shaytans
for whom We have prepared the punishment of the Blaze.
Allah goes on to describe the heaven which we see, which is the lowest heaven.
"We have beautified the lowest heaven with lamps." The lowest
heaven is the nearest one to us. The lamps which adorn it are the stars.
If all the stars are in the lowest heaven, there is no confusion. If there
are in other heavens, then the lowest heaven is adorned because they are
manifest to us in it. no matter how far they are away. It is possible that
it means adorning the lowest heaven with the stars which are above it in
other heavens according to the statement based on the position of the stars,
and in whichever heaven which is not refuted in the Shari'a. The stars are
called "lamps" because they give off light and are beautiful..
"We made some of them stones for the shaytans" means: We made
some of the stars stones because the fixed stars are not used to stone the
Shaytans. It is like your words, "I honoured the Banu so-and-so" when you
honoured some of them.
Rujûm is the plural of rajm, which is a verbal noun naming
that which is used for stoning. Az-Zamakhshari said that it means the stars
which are used to stone of shaytans, and the meteors fall from the stars
to stone the shaytans who try to eavesdrop to the heaven, as mentioned in
37:10. Stoning meteors are separate from the fire of the stars because the
stones are the stars themselves because they are fixed in the heavens. Qatada
said that Allah created the stars for three reasons: to adorn the heaven,
to stone the shaytans and to guide people in the darkness of the land and
"For whom We have prepared the punishment of the Blaze" meaning
for the shaytans. This is when the unbelievers are thrown into it. "Blaze"
(Sa'ir) is a blazing fire which burns. It is used for fire itself
and for a fire which is made to burn by other fire. The root of this word
is which means madness, demonical possession, affliction, and punishment.
We see this elsewhere in the Qur'an: "The evildoers are indeed misguided
and insane (su'r ) on the Day that they are dragged face-first into the Fire:
'Taste the scorching touch of Saqar!'" (54:47-48) Some commentators say
that this can be mean: "misguided and in punishment." Another word from the
same root, su'âr, means heat and evil or mischief. The Fire
that will burn them is thus a result of their own evil, which is a kind of
|6 Those who reject their Lord will have
the punishment of Hell.
What an evil destination!
Jahannam is the Fire of Hell. Some people say that this comes from
Jahinnâm which is a deep well; anyone who falls into it perishes.
This indicates that the People of the Fire are far from the beauty of Allah
Almighty and the bliss of the Garden, burning in the fire of separation and
distance from Allah. It is also ascribed to the root jahuma, which
signifies frowning and grinning sternly.
Here Allah refers to those "who reject their Lord". It is a
deeper existential rejection than simply rejecting the idea of a deity. Everyone
has a Lord to whom he owes his allegiance and whom he obeys.
"What an evil destinatiion!" It is an evil masîr.
The root means to reach a state or condition, or to attain to a place, as
Allah says, "The final destination is to Allah." (3:37) This is the
final state where people find themselves. So it could also be read as "What
an evil final state of being!" They will remain in this condition forever.
|7 When they are flung into it
they will hear it gasping harshly as it
They are flung into it as wood is thrown into a fire either because it is
so hot that they do not want to get near it or because Jahannam is so deep.
"They will hear it gasping." Shahîq is the ugliest
possible noise which a donkey makes. Here it means what is heard of the sound
of Jahannam due to the intensity of its boiling and terror, or the sighing
of its people. Shahîq is used of the people in the Fire, who
"sigh and moan" (11:106). Shahîq is the sound made in the breast
and zafir is made in the throat.
"When it seethes" means its boils with its people as the cauldron
boils fiercely with its contents when there is a little grain in a lot of
|8 It all but bursts with rage.
Each time a group is flung into it
its custodians will question them:
'Did no warner come to you?'
"It all but bursts apart out of its rage" meaning Jahannam
nearly splits part due to the intensity of its rage against the unbelievers.
It is possible that it is rage itself. It is possible that it means the rage
of the Zabaniyya, the custodians of the Fire (as mentioned as the Guards
of Hell in 96:18). The first is more evident because the state of the Zabaniyya
is mentioned after this. The rage of the fire can be real since Allah will
create that rage for it, or it metaphorically designates its intensity. "Rage"
(ghayth) means either a more intensive form of anger (ghadab)
or it is latent because the person feeling the anger does not have the power
to exercise it. It conveys a sense of heat.
"Each time a group is flung into it" meaning whenever a group
of unbelievers is flung into Jahannam, the Zabaniyya will ask, "Did
no warner come to you?" meaning any Messenger. This question is a
form of rebuke and establishing the proof against them. They will admit that
and said, "Indeed a warner did come to us." His word, "Whenever" demands
that it be said to each group when it is cast into the Fire. The custodians
are Malik and his helpers, the Zabaniyya.
|9 They will say, 'Yes indeed,
a warner did come to us
but we denied him and said,
"Allah has sent nothing down.
You are just greatly misguided"'
The use of qad in "he did come" stresses their confession,
particularly when it follows bala (Yes indeed). The Prophet said,
"I am the Warner and the death is that which undoes."They rejected the idea
of a message and thought that it was nonsense. They said that there was no
revelation, no Book, no Messenger. They use the plural "you" (antum)
meaning that they reject all the Messengers, not just the Prophet Muhammad,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
It is also possible that "You are just greatly misguided" are
part of the words of the angels to the rejectors, or part of the words of
the rejectors to the Messengers in this world.
|10 They will say, "If only we had really listened and used our
we would not have been Companions of the
"They will say..." The pronoun refers to the unbelievers, i.e.
if we have listened to the words of the Messengers when we were alive and
understood the evidence of Allah's oneness, we would not have been among
the people of the Blaze. He uses the unlikely "if" (law). This is
not going to happen. They admit to their ignorance only when they are in
the Fire, saying, "If only we had listened to the Messengers or understood
|11 Then they will acknowledge their wrong actions.
Away with the Companions of the Blaze!
"They will acknowledge their wrong actions." This confession
of theirs comes at a time when acknowledgement not help them. This is an
admission based on knowledge (ma'rifa). Now they understand. Here
"their wrong actions" means their denial of the Messengers.
"Away with the Companions of the Blaze!" "Away"
(suhqan) is a noun in the accusative case based a hidden verb
which carries the meaning of a curse on them: "May they be far from the mercy
of Allah!" It means to be put far from prosperity, for a person to not be
pitied for what has happened to him. The root, sahaqa, has other
connotations as well: to bruise or pound; to pulverise by pounding. It is
said that this is what the fierce wind does to the earth when it wears it
down, and hence it also means to wear something out and destroy it. Something
which is termed "sahiq" can be either remote or bruised by pounding.
It is even said by some commentators to be a valley in Jahannam called
|12 Those who fear their Lord in the Unseen
will have forgiveness and an immense reward.
They fear Allah and fear His punishment which they do not see. They fear
their Lord, His punishment on the Day of Rising, on the day when one dies,
and when they are questioned in the grave. As Allah says in Surat Qaf
33 Those who fears the All-Merciful in the Unseen
and come with a contrite heart.
34 Enter it in peace.
This is the Day of Timeless Eternity.
35 They will have everything they want
and with Us there is still more.
Fear has certain causes. The first of them is sound intellect which makes
a person abandon acts of disobedience to Allah. It is only a weak intellect
which has no fear of Allah.
Al-Hakim at-Tirmidhi speaks of fear as follows:
"Fear arises from knowledge of Allah. When the heart knows Him, it fears
Him. Knowledge is obtained by opening. When Allah gives him an opening, he
witnesses things with the eye of his heart and knows Him and so fears Him.
When the heart clings to fear, Allah fills it with love. So by fear the heart
is protected from what Allah detests, however great or small, and by love,
it is cheerful and courageous in matters. If Allah were to leave the slave
with fear alone, he would be constricted and unable to act in many matters.
If He were to leave him with love alone, he would become presumptive and
transgress because the self is aroused by the energy of love. But He - may
His name be blessed! - was kind to him and made fear his inner part and love
his outward so that his heart would go straight. So smiles and cheerfulness
is seen in his face and business and that is due to the manifestation of
love in the heart. Nevertheless, inwardly he has mountains of fear!"
Two things are said about what is meant by "in the Unseen".
One is that it means they are not seen by people and thus describes their
sincerity because they obey Allah where people do not see them. The second
statement is that the Unseen is what is not seen by them in the affairs of
the Next World It is reflected in His words, "they believe in the Unseen."
They are not like the hypocrites who are described by Allah as: "When
they meet those who believe, they say, 'We believe.' But then when they go
aparts with their shaytans, they say, 'We are really with you. We were only
Forgiveness is for their wrong actions. The "immense reward" is the
|13 Whether you keep your words secret
or say them out loud
He knows what the heart contains.
Then Allah addresses all people. "Whether you keep your words secret
or voice them out loud." The meaning is that Allah knows all. Nothing
can be concealed from Him. He knows whatever good and evil is in the hearts.
Jibril told the Prophet that the idolaters were saying to one another, "Conceal
what you say so that the Lord of Muhammad does not hear." Then this
ayat was revealed.
|14 Does He who created not then know?
He is the All-Pervading, the All-Aware.
"Does He who created not then know?" This is a proof that Allah
Almighty knows everything because the Creator must necessarily know His
Various names are used to describe Allah's knowledge: He is the All-Knowing,
al-'Alîm, who knows things in the most complete and perfect
manner; the Aware, al-Khabîr, who has perfect knowledge of even
the most hidden things; the Wise, al-Hakîm, who knows and acts
well; the Witness, ash-Shahîd, who possesses knowledge of outward
things; the Preserver, al-Hafîz, who remembers all; and the
Enumerator, al-Muhsi, who knows the quantities of things and comprehends
all. The All-Pervading, al-Latif, knows the fine points of things
so that He can see the small black ant on the black stone in the deepest
|15 It is He who made the earth submissive to you,
so walk its broad trails and eat what it
The Resurrection is to Him.
In "the earth subservient (dhalul)". here the form of
the adjective means the passive tense, meaning made abased or subservient.
This form is usually used for an animal which is manageable or tame, as He
describes the cow in Surat al-Baqara (2:71) It means that the earth
is easy for you to walk on and and cultivate. Its surface remains steady.
So when there is an earthquake, we realise how merciful Allah is by generally
keeping the earth firm and steady for us. It is neither too hot nor too cold
to walk on it nor made of stone so that we slip on it and cannot cultivate
nor made of quicksand so that we cannot stand on it. It is such that we can
dig wells in it. The root, dhalla, also means to become subservient after
having been difficult, which indicates that were it not for Allah's mercy,
the earth could easily have been difficult for habitation.
Ibn 'Abbas said that "walk its trails" refers the mountains,
and it is said that it refers to the slopes and it is said that it is paths.
The word "trails" (manakib) is used to continue the metaphor of an
animal. It literally means "shoulders" as if the earth were the back of an
animal. It is related that Bashir ibn Ka'b had a slavegirl and he said to
her, "If you can tell me what is meant by 'the shoulders of the earth' you
are free." She replied, "Its shoulders are its mountains," and so she was
free. It further shows the blessing in making it easy to walk on the
earth. "Walk" is a command which indicates the permission to
do so. "Eat what it provides" which was created for your sake
and made lawful for you.
"The Resurrection is to Him" refers the resurrection and the
return to Allah on the Day of Rising. "Nushûr" refers to the
rising from the graves and the return to life of the dead . It is said that
it means that the One who has the power to make the earth subservient and
provide provision is able to bring you back from the graves. The verb
nashara also means "land becoming green with rain after having dried
up, spreading out, charming away the effects of enchantment, possession or
insanity, scattering a flock after they were confined in their night shelter,
all reflectin the arising to a new state of existence." This quickening from
death is then waking after spent a night. Allah provides another metaphor
of this in 35:9:
It is Allah who sends the winds which raise the clouds
which We then drive to a dead land
and by them bring back the earth to life after it was dead.
That is how the Rusurrection will be.
The sojourn in the graves is clearly short in relation to eternity. We also
recall this in the supplication we make when we wake up from sleep, "Praise
be to Allah who brought us to life after death and to Him is the Resurrection."
|16 Do you feel secure against Him Who is in heaven
causing the earth to swallow you up
when suddenly it rocks from side to side?
After enumerating His blessings to you in a stable and frutiful earth, Allah
calls attention to its fragility. "Do you feel secure?" If
you rebel against Allah, are you safe? The aim of the ayat is to threaten
and alarm the unbelievers, as is the case with the ayat after it.
It is important to note that the word belief or iman and security
(aman) come from the same root. It is only belief that gives security.
"Him who is in heaven" is the One who has power and authority
in heaven. He made the earth stable for you, but He can equally make it shake
and split apart and so engulf you. The power to do both is in His hands.
You have no security apart from Him.It is also possible that "Him"
(man) refers to the angels who are entrusted with managing this world,
and so it would be translated as, "those who are in heaven". This indicates
the actual fragility of the stability of the earth. Al-Qurtubi says that
it could mean: "Are you secure that the Creator of those in heaven..." It
is important not to think of "who is in heaven" spatially, but rather it
refers to His authority and power. Spatiality cannot be attributed to Allah.
He is described by height and immensity which has no relation to defined
quantities of physical beings. People stretch their hands towards heaven
because the Revelation descended from it, the actions of human beings ascend
to it and beyond it is the Throne of Allah and His Garden. It is taken as
a direction as the Ka'ba is used for the qibla. Allah created places
and has no need of them. Before them, He was before time and space when there
was neither time nor space, "And He is now as He was."
Elsewhere the Qur'an gives us the example of Qarun (28:76-82) who was a man
of the tribe of Israel who had vast wealth which he thought he had obtained
because of his superior knowledge. In spite of this, he and his house were
swallowed up by the earth to provide an example. This should certainly be
a warning to people today who think that their wealth and position is based
on their superior technological knowledge. It is an illusion.
"When it rocks" mentioned in Surat at-Tur. Mawr
means to shake from side to side.
|17 Or do you feel secure against Him Who is in heaven
releasing against you a sudden squall of
so that you will know how true My warning was?
There is a second avenue by which punishment can come - from the heaven because
His Sovereignty embraces all and He can send destruction from which direction
He wills. "A sudden squall of stones" (hasib) can mean
pebbles or a strong wind which contains small stones, and hence destruction.
This is what happened to the people of Lut when Allah rained down stones
on them, and to Abraha and when he invaded Makka and birds came bearing stones
in their beaks. It also refers to destruction of crops by a such a wind.
"Warning (nadhîr)" means warning (indhar) as
nakîr (denial) in the next ayat means inkar. It
means warning about the punishment. If Allah were to send this to you, you
would immediately know the truth of the punishment. It is also said that
nadhîr also means "mundhir" (warner), in which case it
refers to Muhammad. Then it means: you will know the truth of what he says.
Warsh has "nadhîrî " (My warning) rather than
"nadhîr " in Hafs, as in the next ayat it also has
"nakîrî" (My denial) rather than the "nakîr"
|18 Those before them also denied
but then how great was My denial!
Nations before them, meaning before the Quraysh, denied the message as Allah
says elsewhere in the Qur'an:
If they deny you, the people of Nuh before them denied him
and those of 'Ad and of Thamud
41 and the people of Ibrahim and the people of Lut
42 and the companions of Madyan;
and Musa was denied as well.
I allowed time to the rejectors
but then I seized them.
How terrible was My denial!" (22:40-42)
This is to console the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace,
by the fact that the same denial was experienced by Prophets before him.
"Denial" (nakîr ) can mean the manifestation of disapproval
of their behaviour, by changing life into destruction, favour into trial,
and prosperity into ruin. The verb nakkara has to do with changing
a state, in this case by destruction being visited upon them.
|19 Have they not looked at the birds above them,
with wings outspread and folded back?
Nothing holds them up but the All-Merciful.
He sees all things.
Then Allah gives a metaphor of something very beautiful, but at the same
time very fragile, the the flight of birds in the air without anything to
hold them up. "Have they not looked at the birds above them with wings
outspread?" The way the question is asked implies that they are heedless
of this sign. As the earth is subject to man, so the air is subject to the
birds. But we can see how fragile it is while we forget how fragile we are
on the surface of the earth.
"Outspread" (sâffât) is the plural of sâffa.
They are the birds who spread their wings out and hold them open. Qabd
refers to folding the wings to the sides. "Folded back" is in a verbal form
and is joined to "outspread" because the verb has the meaning of the noun,
and it implies the noun, qâbidât. It can also refer to
birds in formation as "sâffât" also refers to ranks.
It is only the power of the All-Merciful which holds them up. "He sees
all things," even each individual bird so that He keeps them suspended
in the air.
|20 Who is there who could be a force for you,
to come to your support,
apart from the All-Merciful?
The kafirun are only living in delusion.
Having recounted all these aspects of Allah's power, He then says: "Who
is there whoocould to be a force for you?" This is addressed to the
unbelievers to rebuke and threaten them and to establish the proof against
them. The form of the question implies a negative answer. Ibn 'Abbas says
that "force" (jund) means a party and a defence or helpers. This is
negating their false assumption of power. Only Allah possesses power.
The shaytans delude them that there will be neither punishment nor reckoning
nor afterlife. "Delusion" (ghurûr) is a verbal noun. The root,
gharra, means to be deceived or beguiled into desiring what is false
and made to be bold against something, to follow a course without being rightly
guided. The verb, gharra, also means to expose a person to destruction
by deceit. Another noun from this root, gharar, means peril or jeopardy
or risk, which is a type of sale which is forbidden.
|21 Who is there who could provide for you
if He withholds His provision?
Yet still they obstinately persist in insolence and
"Provision" can refer to the rain or the crops. Who will make
it rain if He withholds it? Furthermore, if He makes it impossible for you
to eat, who will enable you to eat? provision is not just material goods,
but it is everything a person makes use of. Provision includes the air we
breathe, the water, the food we eat, the gifts and talents and character
Allah has given us. All of this is provision - speech, sight, touch, taste,
blood cells, internal organs, osmosis, photosynthesis, etc. Allah gives us
an excellent parable of his absolute control over provision in Surat
32 Make an example for them of two men.
To one of them We gave two gardens of grape-vines
and surrounded them with date-palms,
putting between them some cultivated land.
33 Both gardens yielded their crops and did not suffer any loss,
and We made a river flow right through the middle
34 He was a man of wealth and property
and he said to his companion, debating with him,
'I have more wealth than you and more people under me.'
35 He entered his garden and wronged himself by saying,
'I do not think that this will ever end.
I do not think the Hour will ever come.
But if I should be sent back to my Lord,
I will definitely get something better in return.'
36 His companion, with whom he was debating, said to him,
'Do you then disbelieve in Him who created you from
then from a drop of sperm, and then formed you as a man?
37 He is, however, Allah, my Lord,
and I will not associate anyone with my Lord.
38 Why, when you entered your garden, did you not say,
"It is as Allah wills, there is no strength but
Though you see me with less wealth and children
than you possess,
39 it may well be that my Lord will give me
something better than your garden
and send down on it a fireball from the sky
so that morning finds it a shifting heap of dust,
40 or morning finds its water drained into the earth
so that you cannot get at it.'
41 The fruits of his labour were completely destroyed
and he woke up wringing his hands in grief,
rueing everything that he had spent on it.
It was a ruin with all its trellises fallen in.
He said, 'Oh, if only I had not associated
anyone with my Lord!'
42 There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah,
and he was not given any help.
43 In that situation the only protection is from Allah, the Real.
He gives the best reward and the best outcome.
"To be obstinate" means to be stubborn and continue and persist in "disdain
and insolence" and "evasion" to belief and the Truth. "Insolence"
('atw) means to be proud and excessive and immoderate in disbelief,
to recoil and revolt from obedience. It also means to become dried up and
rigid, which reflects the state of the unbelievers who persist in their
disbelief. They are rigid and cannot move from their entrenched position.
It also implies a threat because it is a term which is used elsewhere to
refer to the insolence of the unbelievers before divine punishment befalls
them. It is used of Thamud when they hamstrung the camel (7:77; 51:44), and
when those who broke the Sabbath were transformed into apes. (7:166) They
are much like Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, "that fixed mind and
high disdain, from sense of injured merit." (1.94) and "Vaunting aloud, but
racked with despair." (1.16)
"Evasion (nufûr)" means shying away. This is the refractoriness
of an unbroken horse or camel which shies and breaks away from something,
refusing to be compliant and obedient. This is something that animals do.
We might deduce that the first refers to their leaders and the second to
their followers. Allah also describes this elsewhere in the Qur'an (35:40-43):
40 Say: 'Have you thought about your partner gods,
those you call upon besides Allah?
Show me what they have created of the earth;
or do they have a partnership in the heavens?'
Have We given them a Book whose Clear Signs they follow?
No indeed! The wrongdoers promise each other
nothing but delusion.
41 Allah keeps a firm hold on the heavens and earth,
preventing them from vanishing away.
And if they vanished no one could then keep hold of them.
Certainly He is Most Forbearing, Ever-Forgiving.
42 They swore by Allah with their most earnest oaths
that if a warner came to them
they would be better guided
than any other community.
But then when a warner did come to them,
it only increased their aversion,
43 shown by their arrogance in the land and evil plotting.
But evil plotting envelops only those who do it.
Do they expect anything
but the pattern of previous peoples?
You will not find any changing in the pattern of Allah.
You will not find any alteration in the pattern of
|22 Who is better guided:
he who goes grovelling on his face
or he who walks upright on a straight path?
"Who is better guided?" What is meant by this is to rebuke
the unbelievers. Two things are said about what it means. One is that walking
is a metaphor about travelling the path of guidance and misguidance in this
world. The other is that it is real and refers to the form of walking in
the Next World because the unbeliever will be made to crawl to Jahannam on
In the case of the first statement, it is said that the one who walks grovelling
was Abu Jahl and the one who walked upright was Muhammad, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, and it is said that it is Hamza, and it is said
that it is general to every believer and unbeliever.
"Grovelling (mukibb) is to walk with head bowed without looking forward
or to the right or the left, not being safe from stumbling or falling on
his face. The one who walks upright can look to the right and left. Someone
who is blind is like this. He will be gathered in the Next World on his face.
The Straight Path is Islam. Qatada said that the unbeliever is bent
(akabb) on acts of disobedience in this world and so Allah will gather
him on his face in the Fire in the end. As Allah says, "Those who perform
bad actions will be thrown head first into the Fire." (27:90)
The believer was straight in following Allah's command in this world, and
so Allah gathers him on his feet to the Garden. The Prophet was asked, "How
can they walk on their faces?" He said, "The One who enabled them to walk
on their feet is able to make them walk on their faces." Al-Qashani said
that walking with face down is to incline to what is low, to sensual pleasures
and to walk on the Straight Path is to follow the Path of tawhid.
|23 Say: 'It is He who brought you into being
and gave you hearing, sight and hearts.
What little thanks you show!'
"Brought you into being" (nasha') refers to originating something
from nothing. He has given you all these blessings and yet you do not show
your gratitude to Him! You have hearing so that you can hear the signs of
Allah and eyes so that you can see His signs and the things He has created
and hearts so that you can reflect on them. This and the following ayat are
also found in 23:78-79, and so it is a command to be grateful.
Various definitions have been given for thankfulness or shukr. They
can be summarised as the heart being joyful at receiving the blessing and
inclining to love the one who bestowed it, the limbs being disposed to obey
the Giver, and the tongue to praise and mention Him. And, as Allah says,
"He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number
Allah's blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrongdoing,
ungrateful." (14:34) Allah's blessings are infinite and start with existence
itself, as He says: "Allah brought you out of your mothers' wombs knowing
nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you
would show thanks." (16:77) It is impossible to be adequately grateful
to the Creator. It is reported that Prophet Da'ud said, "O Lord, how can
I be grateful to You when my gratefulness to You is a blessing to me for
which I must be grateful?" Allah said, "Now you have been grateful to me,
Thankfulness involves the use of the tongue, to praise the Giver; the use
of the limbs to act to serve Him; and that the heart should acknowledge the
Giver. Thankfulness itself gives increase, as Allah says, "If you are
grateful, I will certainly give you increase, but if you are ungrateful,
My punishment is severe." (14:8) Thankfulness is nothing but benefit
|24 Say: 'It is He who scattered you about the earth
and you will be gathered to Him.'
All you see comes from Him and you will be returned to Him for the reckoning.
The verb dhara'a (scatter) also means to create and to multiply.
Dhurriya () means created beings or children, offspring. The verb
also refers to the winnowing of wheat, and the casting of grain for planting.
So the previous ayat refers to the initial creation of man from nothing
and this ayat refers to the increase in the numbers. It also means
to sow. So this is the propagation of mankind. Allah further describes this
scattering in 42:11: "The Bringer-into-being of the heavens and earth.
He has given you mates from among yourselves, and given mates to the livestock,
in that way multiplying you."
|25 They say, 'When will this promise come about
if you are telling the truth?'
"They say, 'When will this promise come about?'" The pronoun
refers to the unbelievers. The promise means the resurrection and the gathering,
or their punishment in this world. They say this in mockery and denial.
"If you are telling the truth" means the believers. The unbelievers
do not believe that this will come about.
|26 Say: 'The knowledge is with Allah alone
and I am only a clear warner.'
This is what the Prophet is to say in answer to them. Only Allah knows when
the Last Hour will come. He tells them that he has only come to warn them
and alarm them about what their behaviour. Allah describes this interrchange
further in Surat al-A'raf: "They will ask you about the Hour: when is
it due? Say: 'Knowledge of it is rests with my Lord alone. He alone will
reveal it at its proper time. It hangs heavy in the heavens and the earth.
It will not come upon you except for suddenly.' They will ask you as if you
had full knowledge of it. Say: 'Knowledge of it is with Allah alone. But
most people do not know that.'" (7:187)
|27 When they see it right up close,
the faces of those who are kafir
will be appalled
and they will be told,
'This is what you were calling for.'
Then it will inevitably come. "When they see it" is when the unbelievers
see the promised punishment. They will see it with their own eyes. Al-Hasan
said that it is eye-witnessing. It is said that it is the punishment of the
Next World or the punishment inflicted on the unbelievers in the Battle of
Badr. Or it could be when they see the Gathering. "Close" (zulfa)
is a verbal noun meaning physically near or immediate.
"The faces of those who reject will be appalled" or "blackened" or "clouded
over", meaning that the evil of what befalls them will be seen in them. Their
faces will show their evil because they will become black. It will be physically
seen in them. Allah says, "On the day when faces are whitened and faces
are blackened." (3:106) The effects of what is being felt is seen in
"They will be told, 'This is what that you were calling for."
This is what they were seeking and trying to hasten. Those who say
that will be the angels, or it is a metaphor for the situation becoming evident
to them. It is their words, "Our Lord, advance our share to us before
the Day of Reckoning." (38:16)
|28 Say: 'What do you think?
If Allah destroys me and those with me,
or if He has mercy on us,
who can shelter the kafirun
from a painful punishment?'
The reason for the revelation of this ayat is that the unbelievers
used to wish for the destruction of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace, and the Muslims. Allah commanded him to say to them,
"If Allah destroys me and those with me, or he has mercy on us, you still
will not be saved from the painful punishment." Destruction here can refer
to death or some disaster. "Those with me" are the believers.
The meaning of "who can shelter the rejectors from a painful
punishment?" is: who will prevent their punishment. "Shelter"
(yajîru) means to protect, help and deliver from evil. It is
said of Allah, "He protects, but none is protected against Him." The verb
involves giving shelter from something, in this case, the punishment.
|29 Say: 'He is the All-Merciful.
We have iman in Him
and trust in Him.
You will soon know
who is clearly misguided.'
It is the All-Merciful to whom he calls them to worship. Here we have belief
and trust (tawakkul). As He says elsewhere: "The believers are
those whose hearts tremble when Allah is mentioned, whose belief is increased
when His Signs are recited to them, and who put their trust in their Lord."
Trust or tawakkul, means that the heart relies on Allah and not on
creatures. This trust is one of the fruits of belief and knowledge. The greater
the belief and knowledge of Allah, the greater the trust, hence Allah says:
"Put your trust in Allah if you are believers." (5:23)
Trust also entails being content with Allah's decree. Hence Bishr al-Hafi
said, "One of you says, 'I trust on Allah,' and he lies. If he had truly
trusted in Allah, he would have been content with what Allalh Almighty does
The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace, recommended trust in Allah in every instance. He said,
"If, when he leaves the hourse, a person says, 'In the name of Allah. I have
put my trust in Allah and there is no power nor strength except by Allah,'
he will be told, 'You are guided, sufficed, protected, and saved from Shaytan.'
Then one shaytan will say to another, 'How can you have any power over a
man who has been guided, sufficed and protected?'" (Abu Dawud, an-Nasa'i
Trusting in Allah produces calmness and tranquillity in the hearts, exspecially
in trials and tribulations. As Allah says elsewhere:
Those to whom people said,
"The people have gathered together
against you, so fear them."
But it increased them in belief and they said,
"Allah is enough for us and the Best
174 So they returned with blessing and bounty from Allah
and no evil touched them.
They pursued the pleasure of Allah.
Allah's favour is indeed immense." (3:173-174)
|30 Say: 'What do you think?
If, one morning, your water disappears into the
who will bring you running water?'
"Say: 'What do you think? If, one morning, your water disappears into
the earth...'" This ayat is an argument against the idolaters.
"Disappears" (ghawr) is a verbal noun which is used as an adjective,
meaning vanishing into the earth. "Running"(ma'în) is abundant.
The meaning is: if your water which you drink vanishes, will other than Allah
bring you running water? This hearkens back to the example from Surat
al-Kahf given under ayat 21, when one of the two men with a garden
has his water disappear.
This is a further question addressed to Quraysh to show their lack of power.
Their water was well water and wells can go dry. A spring which is ma'ana
has ample water. Ibn 'Abbas says that it means: who will bring you sweet
water? In reference to the people of Makka, whose water came from two wells,
Zamzam and Maymun al-Hadrami, this is a telling point. What happens if Allah
were to make the wells go dry? Zamzam itself was a miracle which appeared
the middle of the desert.
Rasul Allah (sallah llahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord" and whoever knows his Lord has been given His gnosis and nearness.