Surah al-Mulk, Chapter 67
General Overview of the Chapter
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
The blessed Chapter opens the twenty ninth part (juz’) of the Holy Qur’an. The Chapter, revealed in Mecca, has thirty Verses. Another designation of the Chapter is Tabarak ("the Bountiful").
Both designations are derived from the first Verse and denote "Sovereignty" and "Bountiful" respectively.
The blessed Chapter generally treats of the following:
1. Topics regarding the Origin of existence, Divine Attributes, the marvelous system of the Creation of the world of existence and man, and man’s means of gaining knowledge;
2. Topics concerning the Hereafter, torments of the Hell, and the conversations of the people of the Hell on the Day of Resurrection;
3. Warning the disbelievers and wrong doers against being afflicted with torments in this world and the Hereafter.
The Merit of Reciting the Chapter
The blessed Chapter is one of the most meritorious Qur’anic Chapters regarding which many a tradition have been narrated from the Noble Prophet (S) and the Infallible Imams (as) regarding the recitation of the blessed Chapter.
In this vein, it is narrated from the Noble Prophet (S) as saying:
"One who recites Surah al-Tabarak is like one who wakes up praying in the Night of Ordainment.1
According to another Prophetic tradition:
"I wish Surah al-Tabarak were recorded in the believers’ heart.2
Other traditions in this respect are to found in tradition sources.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 1-2
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ الْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
1. Bountiful is He in Whose Hand is the Sovereignty and He is All-Able to do all things.
2. The Lord who created death and life so that He may test you that which of you is better in deed. And He is the Omnipotent, the Oft-Forgiving.
The blessed Chapter 25 (Surah al-Furqan) also opens with the word
The Arabic word tabarak, deriving from b-r-t, is cognate with the infinitive baraka ("permanent good") and barka ("pond, where water gathers").
All powers and states are subject to decline except for Divine Sovereignty which is everlasting.
The blessed Chapter opens with the significant issue of Divine Ownership, Sovereignty, and His Everlasting Pure Essence which serves as the key to all the discussions raised in the Chapter wherein it is said that He is Bountiful and Everlasting. He is the One in Whose Hand is the Sovereignty of the world of existence and He is Omnipotent.
The blessed Verse 1 is indicative of the Bountifulness of Divine Pure Essence, namely His Ownership and Sovereignty in the world of existence and His Omnipotence as the Everlasting and Bountiful Existent Being.
In other words, His Omnipotence, Majesty, and Infinite Might leave no room for any hopelessness, defect, and limit in the Omnipotence of the Absolute Mighty and Eternal Existent Being. His All-Mightiness in Infinite, His Knowledge encompasses all beings, His Omnipotence is Boundless, and the Emanation of His Existence embraces all creatures.
All intellectually possible existent beings, souls, essences of matter, and natural phenomena take their fill of the Infinite Ocean of Divine Emanation and are thereby existent and are dominated by His Existential Command. They all conspire to constitute such luxurious palace of the universe. It is through His Will that man comes into existence.
The second blessed Verse makes a reference to the goal of creation and man’s death and life which are indicative of Divine Ownership and Sovereignty, saying:
Death employed in the sense of non-existence is not created, since Creation concerns existential matters, though we know that death is truly transference from one world to another and in this sense, it is an existential matter which may be created. The precedence of death over life herein is owing to the profound impression made by according attention to death in performing good deeds. Besides, death temporally precedes life.
The blessed Verse also treats of the Divine Trial that as mentioned above is a kind of fostering such that it makes man enter the arena of action and thereby makes them experienced and pure deserving Divine Proximity.
Further treatment of the topic is to be found under 2:155. It is worthy of note that the goal behind trial is mentioned as performing good deeds rather than the quantity of such deeds. Deeds are supposed to be performed sincerely for the sake of God Almighty even if they happen to be few in terms of quantity.
It is mentioned in some Prophetic traditions that
connotes perfect intellect, fear of God Almighty, and being fully aware of Divine Commands even if the good deeds happen to be few in terms of number.
It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) as saying that the blessed Verse is indicative of proper acts which are accompanied by worshipping God Almighty and having pure intentions. He further says that preservation of deeds from impurities is harder than performing deeds and sincerely performed righteous good deeds are those whose agent does not expect praise from anyone besides God Almighty. 3
Thus, the world is the arena of a great trial for all mankind. Death and life are the means of the trial and the goal behind it is to achieve performing good righteous deeds which are indicative of the development of inward knowledge, sincerity of intentions, and performing any kind of good righteous deeds.
In this vein, some Qur’an exegetes maintain that
herein connote remembrance of death or preparation for death and the like. In fact they refer to different implications of the general sense of the word. Since man commits numerous mistakes in such great arena of trial, he should not despair of having committed such mistakes and thereby refrain from striving toward his spiritual growth.
The blessed Verse closes with the Divine Promise of Support and Forgiving of sins, saying that God Almighty is Invincible and Oft-Forgiving. He is the Omnipotent Lord Who forgives all repenting believers and His Might and Majesty is accompanied by Mercy and Compassion.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 3-4
الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا ۖ مَّا تَرَىٰ فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ مِن تَفَاوُتٍ ۖ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَىٰ مِن فُطُورٍ
ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ
3. Who has created the seven heavens one above another and you can see no flaw in the Creation of the Most Gracious. Then, behold again: "Can you see any rifts?"
4. Then, behold time and again. Your sight will return to you in a state of humbleness and exhaustion.
The system of Creation is based on Divine Mercy. It is the best system of Creation into which neither defect nor flaw may find its way. Knowing God Almighty should be based on observation and exactitude so that many may strengthen his belief in Divine Omnipotence and the Majesty of the world of existence.
Thus, the blessed Verses in question treat of the universal system of Creation encouraging man to study the organic system of the world of existence so that he may prepare himself for the great trial, saying that the Lord created the seven heavens one above another. The seven heavens were briefly treated above under 65:12:
The Arabic nominal form tibaqan ("in layers, one on top of the other") reflects that the seven heavens are above on another and the cognate verbal noun mutabiqa literally denotes being placed on top of another.
Now, if we take the seven heavens a reference to the seven planets of the solar system, visible to the naked eye, having their fixed distance from the sun and one is above another. If we regard all the stars and planets visible to the unarmed eye as belonging to the first heaven, it may be said that other worlds exist in higher heavens that one is above another.
The blessed Verse proceeds to say that man may find neither contradiction nor defect nor flaw in the Creation of the Most Gracious Lord. Despite all its greatness, the world of creation is based on systematicity, consistency, well-measured constituents, and precise laws such that had any disorder found its way into the world of creation, it would have caused its destruction.
The marvelous systematicity prevailing amongst atoms and their constituent elements, i.e. protons, neutrons, and electrons, and in the entirety of the solar system and other systems and galaxies reflect precise laws that make them proceed on specific courses. At any rate, laws, system, and well-measured plans are to found everywhere.
The blessed Verse closes with further emphasis, urging man to behold once more and observe the world further attentively to find out that there is neither flaw, nor defect, nor inconsistency in the system of the world of creation.
The Arabic nominal form futur literally means splitting lengthwise, though it also connotes breaking the fast, inconsistency, and corruption and the last sense is intended herein. The blessed Verse is saying that no matter how attentively man studies the world of Creation, he may not find the least defect or disharmony in it.
To lay further emphasis on the same point, the blessed Verse 4 says:
The Arabic dual nominal form
derives from the root k-r-r denoting attend and return to something. The nominal form karra denotes repetition whose dual form is karratayn. However, some Qur’an exegetes maintain that the dual form herein does not designate duality, but it connotes repetitive and consecutive attentiveness.
Thus, the blessed Qur’anic Verses urges people to observe the world of creation thrice and thereby study the secrets of creation. In other words, they are encouraged to be attentive time and again so that they see for themselves that there is not a single flaw in such marvelous system of creation and thereby gain further acquaintance with the Omnipotence and Omniscience of the Creator of such system and the world of existence.
The Arabic adverb of manner khasi’an, employed concerning the eye, denotes "with exhaustion." When it is used about dogs, it denotes "drive away." The Arabic adjective hasir derives from the root h-s-r ("undress") since when man is exhausted it is as if he is "nude" of all his faculties, hence the meaning of "exhaustion.
At any rate, two significant conclusions may be drawn out of these blessed Verses:
1. The Holy Qur’an emphatically enjoins all those treading the path of truth to summon their utmost attentiveness as to the secrets of the world existence and the marvels of the world of creation without being content with insufficient observation, since many a secret may not be revealed at the first and second attempts but sharp eyes and insight are required in this regard.
2. The more man exercises attentiveness and precision, the more he may perceive the systematicity and total flawlessness. Many a phenomena, e.g. earthquakes, floods, ailments, and other afflictions, appear as blights and blemishes at the first glance, but further studies reveal that there are significant and precise causes behind them.
Further details may be found in the book titled The Creator of the World (Àfaridigar-i Jahan). The blessed Verses in question explicitly indicate that systematicity and organicism reflect the knowledge and might behind them.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 5
وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِّلشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ
5. And indeed We have adorned the heaven of the world with lamps and We have made such lamps as means of driving away the devils and have prepared for them the blazing torment.
The Arabic nominal form misbah denotes something like a lamp that sheds light at night and makes it as brilliant as the day.
Three expressions are to be found in the blessed Verse concerning the stars:
3. Driving away the devils.
Treating of the sky, the blessed Verse makes mention of brilliant and beauteous stars, saying that God Almighty has adorned the nearest heaven with brilliant lamps and has placed arrows in them to drive away the devils and has prepared for them the torment of Hellfire.
A glance at the dark but starry night and being attentive toward the remote dream-like worlds and reflection upon the systematicity and organicism prevailing in them and meditation on the beauty, delicacy, majesty, and the mysterious and awe-inspiring silence casting its shadow on them admits man to a world brimming with the knowledge and light of Truth and thereby lead him to reflect upon the profundity of the worlds created by God Almighty whose depiction is beyond the reach of expression.
The blessed Verse lays further emphasis on the point that all the stars visible to us constitute elements of the nearest heaven from amongst the seven heavens.
The Arabic nominal phrase
is indicative of the same.
The Arabic plural noun
connotes meteors cast like arrows from one of side of the heaven to the other.
The Arabic plural noun shuhub alludes to the remnants of shattered stars. Thus, the blessed Verse is saying that God Almighty has made stars like arrows driving away the devils. The manner of shooting such arrows, namely the shooting stars, which are wandering in the heavens is treated in details above under 15:18 and 37:20.
Finally, it is worthy of note that although the Holy Qur’an was revealed in the backward milieu of pre-Islamic age of ignorance in the Arabian Peninsula, but emphasis is oftentimes laid on the point that Muslims are supposed to reflect upon the secrets of the majestic world of existence, something inconceivable to the Arabs living in the pre-Islamic age of ignorance which explicitly reflects that the Holy Qur’an was revealed from a Divine Source and the more scientific advancements are made, further greatness and majesty are reflected by Qur’anic emphases in this respect.
It is common knowledge that the earth, despite its colossal size is too small compared to the sun as the focal point of the solar system such that the size of the sun is equal to one million and two hundred planets the size of the earth. On the other hand, our solar system is merely one constituent element of an immense galaxy referred to as the Milky Way.4
Furthermore, the galaxies in the cosmos are innumerable and as soon as astronomical telescopes get further sophisticated, further galaxies are being discovered. How Exalted is the Lord Who has created such colossal and well-measured plan. Greatness belongs to Allah, the One, the All-Mighty.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 6-8
وَلِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
إِذَا أُلْقُوا فِيهَا سَمِعُوا لَهَا شَهِيقًا وَهِيَ تَفُورُ
تَكَادُ تَمَيَّزُ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ ۖ كُلَّمَا أُلْقِيَ فِيهَا فَوْجٌ سَأَلَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَذِيرٌ
6. And for those who disbelieve in their Lord is the torment of Hell and worst indeed is that abode.
7. When they are cast therein, they hear a horrible sound out of it while they are perpetually boiled in it.
8. It almost bursts up with fury. Every time a group is cast therein, the keepers of the Hell will ask them: "Did no warner come unto you?"
Since the preceding Verses treated of the Signs of Divine Majesty and Omnipotence and their reflections in the world of Creation, the blessed Verses in question deal with those who neglect such Signs and tread the path of disbelief and polytheism and like the devils deserve Divine torment. The blessed Verse 6 is saying that torment in the Hell is in store for those who disbelieved in their Lord and Hell is the worst abode for them.
The blessed Verse 7 briefly treats of such horrible torment saying that upon being cast in the Hell, they hear a fearsome sound while it is perpetually boiling. When they are cast into it with utmost humility and disgrace, they hear a horrible and long cry from the Hell enwrapping them in horror.
The Arabic word shahiq literally denotes an unpleasant sound like braying of a donkey. Some Qur’an exegetes maintain that the word is cognate with shahuq denoting "length," hence the designation of a high mount as jabal shahiq.
Thus, the Arabic word shahiq connotes long wail. Some also hold that zafir denotes a moan reverberating in the through and shahiq is applied to a moan reverberating in the breast. At any rate, reference is herein made to frightening and upsetting sounds.
The blessed Verse 8 depicts the intensity of the rage of the Hell, saying that it is almost cleft asunder, like a huge vessel laid on an extraordinarily blazing fire boiling such that it may shatter into pieces at any time or like a person raging and shouting in such manner that he appears to be on the verge of explosion.
Thus is the depiction of the Hell, the focal point of Divine Wrath.
The blessed Verse proceeds to say that when a group of disbelievers are cast into it, the keepers of the Hell ask them surprisingly:
They may not believe that those who had access to Divine Guidance deliberately end up with such dire fate and opt for such evil abode.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 9-11
قَالُوا بَلَىٰ قَدْ جَاءَنَا نَذِيرٌ فَكَذَّبْنَا وَقُلْنَا مَا نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ مِن شَيْءٍ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ كَبِيرٍ
وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ
فَاعْتَرَفُوا بِذَنبِهِمْ فَسُحْقًا لِّأَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ
9. They will say: "Yes, indeed a warner came unto us, but we belied him and said: 'Allah never sent down anything, you are only in great error."
10. And they will say: "Had we but listened or used our intellect, we would not have been amongst the dwellers of the blazing Fire!"
11. Then they will confess to their sins. So, damned are the dwellers of the Fire!
These blessed Verses make references to three confessions made by disbelievers on the Day of Resurrection:
1. They confess that the Prophets came unto them, though they belied them;
2. They confess that they failed to use their intellect and listen to the word of truth;
3. They confess to having committed sins.
True intellection lies in listening to the truth and acknowledging and following it such that one may deliver oneself from Divine Wrath.
Nonetheless, as reflected in the blessed Verse 9, the disbelievers replied unto the keepers of the Hell that warners had come unto them, but they had belied them saying that God Almighty had never sent Revelation onto anyone so that they had been able to pursue their concupiscent desires.
They had even said unto them that they had been in dire error. They had not acknowledged their words nor had they listen to their life giving messages; rather, they stood against them and termed such spiritual physics as those who had been misled and belied them.
The blessed Verse 10 reflects the origin of their misfortune and error, saying that had they listened to the Messengers and made use of their intellect, they would have never been amongst the people of the Hell. It is in the blessed Verse 11 that they confess to having committed sins saying that the people of the Hell are deprived of Divine Mercy.
These Qur’anic Verses treat of the dire fate of the people of the Hell as well as the main cause of their misfortune saying that God Almighty had provided them with hearing, intelligence, and intellect on the one hand and His Messengers with clear proofs on the other thus they had the opportunity to tread on the path to happiness.
However, when man who has the hearing, vision, and intellect, but fails to perceive and think, may not be affected by all the Messengers and Divine Scriptures.
The Arabic word suhq literally denotes ‘pounding, pulverizing,’ and it is also applied to worn out clothes, but it ad hoc connotes being remote from Divine Mercy. Thus, the Arabic clause fa-suhqan li-ashab al-sa‘ir reflects that the people of the Hell are deprived from Divine Mercy and since the curse is accompanied by its realization, the clause means that this group is totally remote from Divine Mercy.
It is worthy of note, however, that it is not the only instance where the Holy Qur’an makes a reference to the extraordinary value of intellect and the main cause of the misfortune of the people of the Hell as their neglect of such Divine faculty, but whoever acquainted with the Holy Qur’an knows that the significance of the issue is reflected on different occasions against the forgeries of those who regard religion as the opium of the mind and neglect of intellection.
The Holy Qur’an at all times addresses thinkers and scholars and those possessing reason.
Numerous traditions have been transmitted in this respect. It is noteworthy that the well-known work titled Kafi opens with a book titled ‘The Book of Intellect and Ignorance’ reflecting upon the same will be indicative of the profundity of Islamic perspective in this respect.
For the sake of brevity, only three traditions will be mentioned in this regard:
1. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) as saying:
Thus, Paradise is the abode of the wise.5
2. According to a Prophetic tradition, man’s character depends on his intellect and whoever lacks intellect, lacks faith.6
3. It is narrated from the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as):
"Intellect is man’s guide and ignorance entails error."
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 12-14
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
وَأَسِرُّوا قَوْلَكُمْ أَوِ اجْهَرُوا بِهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
أَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ
12. Verily, those who fear their Lord inwardly, theirs shall be forgiveness and a great Reward.
13. Whether you keep your talk secret or disclose it, Verily, He is the Omniscient of what is in the breasts.
14. Is not He Who has created All-Aware of the states of His creatures whereas He is the Most Precise, the All-Aware?
The blessed Verse 12, resuming the discussions raised in the preceding Verses regarding the disbelievers and their fate on the Day of Resurrection, is saying that those who fear their Lord inwardly, their sins shall be forgiven and they shall receive a great Reward.
The Arabic word
may connote gaining knowledge as to the Unseen God, Resurrection, or both.
Some exegetes also maintain that the blessed verse makes a reference to fearing God Almighty in committing unseen sins, since if man does not conceal his sins, he will not make them apparent in the best possible way. Thus, reference is made of the significance of pure intentions in refraining from committing sins and disobeying Divine Commands, since keeping something secret is more remote than hypocrisy. All theses exegeses are in harmony.
The definite form of
and the phrase
reflect the significance. In other words, such forgiving and Reward is so great that they may not be perceived by anyone. The blessed Verse 13 lays further emphasis in this regard, saying that whether you conceal or disclose your intentions, God Almighty is All-Aware of whatever is in the hearts.
Some Qur’an exegetes have narrated an occasion of Revelation for the blessed Verse in question on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas to the effect that some of the disbelievers or hypocrites talked evil of the Noble Prophet (S) and Gabriel informed the Noble Prophet (S) of their slanders. Some of them said unto each other to conceal their words so that Muhammad’s (S) God may not hear them.
Thus, the blessed Verse was revealed, saying:
The blessed Verse 14 serves as a proof for the preceding blessed Verse, asking:
Numerous possibilities have been mentioned regarding the clause ala ya‘lamu man khalaqa
the best of which is that God Almighty Who has created the entire world of existence is All-Aware of all the secrets of the world. Are man’s secrets concealed from God Almighty Who has created him?
The adjective latif, cognate with the nominal form lutf, connotes any delicate point and any rapid movement and delicate body.
Thus, the Divine Attribute Latif reflects Divine Omniscience as to the delicacies and secrets of the world of Creation and the Creation of delicate and minute beings. The Attribute implies that God Almighty is All-Aware of innermost secrets concealed in the hearts, the words exchanged at secret sessions, and the sins committed in secret places.
It is narrated in Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn from Imam Ridha (as) as saying that the word latif does not imply delicacy and minuteness but the fact that Divine Omniscience penetrates all things, though others may not perceive it.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 15
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ ذَلُولًا فَامْشُوا فِي مَنَاكِبِهَا وَكُلُوا مِن رِّزْقِهِ ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ
15. He it is the One Who has made the earth subservient to you. So proceed on the path thereof and eat of His provision and know that toward Him will be the Resurrection.
The Arabic word mankab denotes "shoulder" which is the best organ for carrying burdens.
connotes places where Provision may be found. The earth is subservient to man and despite a number of motions, it is tranquil.
It would not be subservient to man if it were subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions permanently or its distance from the sun were nearer or remoter or the existing measures did not predominate the earth. God Almighty has made the earth subservient to man so that he may make efforts on it. On the other hand, Provisions are granted by God Almighty, though efforts are required for obtaining them.
The Arabic adjective dhalul employed in the sense of subservient is the most comprehensive expression which may be used regarding the earth, since such subservient mount, despite its numerous and rapid movements sounds so tranquil that it seems to be absolutely still.
Some scholars maintain that the earth has fourteen different kinds of movements, three of which pertain to its rotation around itself and the sun. Furthermore, such movement is accompanied by that of the solar system in the heart of the galaxy. Such rapid movements are so gentle that before producing decisive arguments as to the movement of the earth, no one believed in such movements.
On the other hand, the crust of the earth is neither too coarse nor rough to impede habitation on it, nor too soft and smooth to impede its tranquility.
Thus, it is fully subservient to human life. Its agitation would be reflected if its surface were covered by mires swallowing everything, by fine sand in which men sank in it to their knees, and by sharp stones and rocks wounding men when they trod on them.
The earth’s distance from the sun is not so less to scorch everything on its surface nor is it so remote from it so that everything be frozen. The atmospheric pressure of the earth is so moderate that it makes life possible without being at the extremes to asphyxiate or shatter human life. The same thing is true with gravity: it is not in the extremes to shatter the bones or cause beings to easily levitate in the air.
At any rate, the earth is subservient to man in all respects. It would be of interest to accord attention to the following theme, i.e. walking on the shoulders of the earth. The Arabic word manakib is the plural form of mankab.
The expression reflects that it is as if man sets his feet on the shoulder of the earth and it is so serene that man may easily keep his balance on it. At the same time, it implies that as long as one makes no efforts, he may not benefit from the provisions of the earth.
The Arabic word rizq ("provision, sustenance") is also a semantically comprehensive term encompassing all forms of mineral, vegetative, and animal nutritive material. However, man is supposed to bear in mind that these do not constitute his final goal of creation, but they serve as means to be used in treading the path leading to "growth", Resurrection, and eternal life.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 16-18
أَأَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاءِ أَن يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَمُورُ
أَمْ أَمِنتُم مَّن فِي السَّمَاءِ أَن يُرْسِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ حَاصِبًا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ كَيْفَ نَذِيرِ
وَلَقَدْ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ
16. Do you feel secure about the torments inflicted by Him, Who is over the heaven, will not cause the earth to sink with you and then it should quake?
17. Or do you feel secure about the torments inflicted by Him, Who is over the heaven, will not send against you a violent whirlwind abounding with gravel? Then you shall know how has My Warning been.
18. And indeed those before them belied Divine Signs, but behold how terrible was My Chastisement.
Resuming the foregoing discussions on the fates of disbelievers, the people of the Hell and the believers, the people of Paradise, the blessed Verses in question urge believers to join the lines of the people of Paradise and refrain from the practices of the people of the Hell. Following a treatment of Divine Bounties mentioned in the preceding Verses, the blessed Verses in question make a reference to some of His torments.
The blessed Verse 16 asks:
"Do you feel secure about the torments of the One Who is the Absolute Sovereign in the heavens? Are you aware that He may command that the earth be torn asunder and swallow you and permanently quake? If He commands, the tranquil earth revolts and turns into a stubborn beast. Then, the earth will quake and clefts appear in the earth swallowing you and your houses and cities. The earth will still quake.”
The Arabic clause
may indicate that God Almighty may command so that the earth swallows you and tosses you from one point to another.
Thus, your graves may not be tranquil and the earth may lose its tranquility forever predominated by permanent quakes. The inhabitants of the quake stricken regions perceive it with further facility since they inhabit regions that may quake for days depriving the inhabitants of their normal course of life. Au contraire, those accustomed to the tranquility of the earth may require further reflection upon the point to grasp the expression.
alludes to the Divine Pure Essence Whose Sovereignty predominates the heavens and the earth in their entirety. However, some Qur’an exegetes also maintain that a reference is hereby made of the angels in the heaven assigned to execute Divine Commands.
The blessed Verse 17 is saying that there is no need to experience earth quakes, since He may command whirlwinds abounding in gravel to bury you beneath heaps of them. You shall notice before long how Divine Warnings shall be realized. The point may be easily grasped by those who have experienced the sand and hasib winds, namely those moving the heaps of sand. They know that such winds may bury the dwellings and caravans in a few moments under heaps of sand and gravel.
Thus, the blessed Verses reflect that their torments are not restricted to those befalling them in the Hereafter, but God Almighty may put an end to their lives by earth quakes or gales. To further depict such torments, reference is made to similar disasters which befell the ancient peoples.
Therefore, the blessed Verse 18 says that those who were before them belied Divine Signs and Messengers, but behold the Divine Chastisements befallen them. Some were chastised by destructive quakes, some by lightning, and some by tempests and gales, leaving behind their ruined cities so that prospective generations may take lessons and obey Divine Commands.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 19
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ
19. Do they not see the birds above them, spreading out their wings and folding them in? None upholds them in the sky except the Most Gracious Lord. Verily, He is the All-Seer of everything.
Birds, by their migrations and soaring in the sky for reaching remote places in the four seasons without any restrictions as to their permanent flight without falling down and collision serve as the Signs of Divine Omnipotence and Glory.
Thus, the blessed Verse in question asks:
They soar in the sky resisting the law of gravity and easily fly in the sky for hours, and at times weeks and months in rows and find no restriction as to their gentle and speedy flight. Some of them oftentimes spread their wings (safat), as if a secret force puts them to flight.
Some of them flutter permanently and the Arabic verbal form yaqbidhna may imply the same sense. Some birds flutter and then spread their wings. The fourth group, like sparrows, flutter for some time, but when they reach the required speed, they fold in their wings and dive in the air. At any rate, they follow different patterns.
Who has created them such that they may easily soar in the sky? Who has provided them with the power to fly and has trained them to fly, particularly when they fly in flocks that at times it takes months of soaring above numerous lands, forests, mountains, valleys, and seas to reach their destinations?
Thus, the blessed Verse closes by saying that none but the Most Gracious Allah keeps them in the sky, since He is the All-Seer of everything and is All-Aware of the needs of His creatures and accordingly provides them with befitting means and different faculties. It is worthy of note, however, that a detailed discussion regarding the wonders of the world of the birds and their flight is to be found above under 16:79.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 20
أَمَّنْ هَٰذَا الَّذِي هُوَ جُندٌ لَّكُمْ يَنصُرُكُم مِّن دُونِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ ۚ إِنِ الْكَافِرُونَ إِلَّا فِي غُرُورٍ
20. Who is he besides the Most Gracious that may serve as your host against God Almighty? The disbelievers are preoccupied with nothing but vanity.
The blessed Verse in question makes a reference to the point that the disbelievers may not find any support against God Almighty, asking:
“Who may render you assistance against God Almighty? They are not only unable to render you support at the time of afflictions, but if God Almighty wills, He assigns them to cause affliction for you.”
Water, wind, dust, and fire are subservient to you and constitute the pillars on which your life rests. Nonetheless, God Almighty assigned them to cause the perdition of the disobedient peoples. Numerous instances of such disobedience and the consequent torments befalling on the disobedient are to be found in the history of mankind.
The closest associates of the kings, Pharaohs, and the rebellious cause their perdition. Contemporary history also attests to numerous instances of the rebellions staged by the closest and the most loyal forces of the tyrannical regimes against them and causing their perdition. However, the disbelievers are solely preoccupied with their vanity and delusion.
The veils of vanity and ignorance have been cast on their intellect impeding them from taking lessons from historical instances.
The Arabic word jund originally denotes uneven and rough surface of the earth where stones and gravel abound, hence the connotation of hosts and armies. Some Qur’an exegetes maintain that the term is herein applied to idols unable in the least to render assistance to the polytheists. However, the contextual meaning of the blessed Verse in question is broad in its semantic scope and reference to idols merely constitutes one of the semantic elements of the same.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 21
أَمَّنْ هَٰذَا الَّذِي يَرْزُقُكُمْ إِنْ أَمْسَكَ رِزْقَهُ ۚ بَل لَّجُّوا فِي عُتُوٍّ وَنُفُورٍ
21. Who may provide for you if He should withhold His provision? However, they continue to be obdurate in their disobedience and evading the truth.
The preceding blessed Verse and the one in question allude to the causes of human misfortunes. In this respect, vanity, obduracy, disobedience, and evading the truth (‘utu) imply arrogance and transgressing the bounds set by the Truth. The Arabic word nufur connotes expression of disgust and evading the truth which pave the path for rebellion and disobedience which in turn pave the ground for hatred of and distancing from the truth.
It is worthy of note, however, that God Almighty is the only Provider Who provides in this world
and the Hereafter
Thus, the blessed Verse is saying that if God Almighty withholds His Provision, no one may meet your requirements and provide for you. If he commands the heaven to desist from sending down rain, plants may not grow on the earth, and numerous blights may destroy the cultivated lands and no one may provide you with your daily sustenance.
If the spiritual provisions and Divine Revelation be withheld, no one will be able to guide you. These are evident truths, but your obduracy and disobedience serve as veils impeding you from perceiving the truth. Thus, the blessed Verse closes by saying that they continue their obduracy and evading the truth.
It is worthy of note, however, that despite all the advancements in different spheres of human life, particularly those made in the domain of nutrition industries, if it does not rain for one single year, a disaster shall befall throughout the world and if the hosts of locusts and other blights spread every corner, a great disaster shall be inflicted upon the world.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 22
أَفَمَن يَمْشِي مُكِبًّا عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ أَهْدَىٰ أَمَّن يَمْشِي سَوِيًّا عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
22. Is he who walks prone on his face, more rightly guided or he who walks upright on the Straight Path?
Following the discussion raised in the foregoing blessed Verses regarding the disbelievers and the believers, the blessed Verse in question depicts the states of the two groups of the disbelievers and the believers by an illustration of interest, asking:
The disbelievers, they tyrants, and the arrogant obdurate people are likened to one who crawls on an uneven and meandering road; as a consequence of which he neither sees the road clearly, nor is able to control himself, nor is aware of the impediments and obstacles, nor moves with desirable speed, but he walks for a short while and despairs.
Au contraire, the disbelievers are resembled to those who walk upright and traverse an even and straight path with utmost speed, might, awareness, and facility. Such precise and interesting similitude is clearly reflected in the lives of these two groups.
Some Qur’anic exegetes maintain that the twain allude to the Noble Prophet (S) and his uncle, Abu Jahl; though such interpretation reflects few instances without restricting the general contextual meaning of the blessed Verse in question.
Different interpretations have been provided for mukibban ‘ala wajhihi, though the abovementioned meaning is more consistent with its contextual meaning, namely walking or crawling prone. At any rate, these are the sates of the disbelievers and the believers in the Hereafter or in both worlds and there is no reason as to the semantic restriction of the blessed Verse reflecting that they are so in this world and the Hereafter.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 23
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۖ قَلِيلًا مَّا تَشْكُرُونَ
23. Say it is He Who has created you and endowed you with hearing and seeing and hearts, though little thanks you give.
Addressed to the Noble Prophet (S), the blessed Verse is saying that God Almighty is the One Who created you and endowed you with hearing, seeing, and hearts, though you offer insufficient thanks.
In other words, God Almighty provided you with the means of observation and experience (vision), that of gaining awareness as to the products of other people’s thought (hearing), and that of reflection on intellectual sciences (heart). Thus, you have been endowed with all the required means of obtaining intellectual and narrational knowledge, though there are few who offer their gratitude for such great Bounties.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 24
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي ذَرَأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
24. Say: "It is He Who has created you on the earth and to Him you shall return.
The blessed Verse is saying that God Almighty Who created you on the earth and from the earth is All-Able to resurrect you. God Almighty disseminates mankind all over the world and He shall resurrect and gather them on the Day of Resurrection.
Addressed to the Noble Prophet (S), the blessed Verse is saying:
"Say that He is the One Who created you on the earth and you shall return to Him and shall be gathered before Him.”
The blessed Verse actually determines the course and the goal, namely man is enjoined to tread on the Straight Path of the Islamic faith, make use of all the means of obtaining knowledge and recognition, and proceed toward the everlasting life.
It is worthy of note that the preceding blessed Verse contains the verbal form ansha’akum and the blessed One in question includes dhara’akum. The former may allude to creating man ex nihilo, namely you were non-existent and God Almighty created you and the latter makes a reference to the Creation of man from the earth.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 25-27
وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَٰذَا الْوَعْدُ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْعِلْمُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ
فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهُ زُلْفَةً سِيئَتْ وُجُوهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَقِيلَ هَٰذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تَدَّعُونَ
25. They say: "When will this promise come to pass if you are telling the truth?"
26. Say: "The knowledge is with Allah only and I am merely a plain warner.
27. But when they see it approaching, the faces of those who disbelieve will turn ugly and black and it will be said unto them: "This is what you were calling for!"
is attested six times in the Holy Qur’an as uttered by the disbelievers to who the Noble Prophet (S) would reply:
"The Knowledge as to the Resurrection is solely with God Almighty."
The knowledge of the unseen falls into two categories: one granted His chosen believers
and one which is solely with God Almighty and even His Messengers are unaware of it, instances of which include the specified time of Resurrection as mentioned in the preceding blessed Verse11 and the supplication including
The blessed Verse proceeds to treat of the words uttered by those who belie Resurrection, saying that they utter such derisive words but if they are true in their claim they may specify the exact time of Resurrection. Now that they may not act accordingly, why do they not state that they are unable to do so?
Two interpretations have been suggested for
firstly, the promise of Resurrection and the other the numerous chastisements inflicted in this world, e.g. earth quakes and lightning, though the twain are not inharmonious.
The blessed Verse 26 is thus replying unto them:
The expression is reiterated elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an, including:
The knowledge rests solely with God Almighty since if the appointed time of Resurrection were known and it happened to be far ahead, people would sink into the dire of neglect and if it happened to be close, the people would be too anxious for the fulfillment of the goals of human growth.
The blessed Verse 27 is saying that when they experience the Divine Promises and torments, the faces of the disbelievers turn ugly and black, such that they reflect their sorrows. It will be said unto them that it is what you called for. The verbal form tadda‘un, deriving from the root d-‘-a, implies that they called for Resurrection at all times and now there is no way to evade the reckoning of deeds at the time.
It is noteworthy that Hakim Abu al-Qasim Haskani in this respect says that when the disbelievers noticed the exalted rank of the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as), before God Almighty, their faces turned black out of rage.13
In this vein, it is narrated from Imam Baqir (as) as saying that the blessed Verse in question was revealed regarding the Commander of the Faithful, Imam ‘Ali (as) and his followers.14At any rate, the exegesis transmitted by the Shi‘i and Sunni authorities is regarded as comparison and the blessed Verse teats of Resurrection and traditions are imbued with such comparisons.
Surah al-Mulk – Verses 28-29
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَهْلَكَنِيَ اللَّهُ وَمَن مَّعِيَ أَوْ رَحِمَنَا فَمَن يُجِيرُ الْكَافِرِينَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ آمَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ هُوَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
28. Say: "If Allah destroys me and those with me or He bestows His Mercy on us, who can save the disbelievers from an excruciating torment?"
29. Say: "He is the Most Gracious, in Him we believe and in Him we put our trust. So you will come to know who it is that is in manifest error."
The blessed Verse which is one of the last Verses of the Chapter opening with
addressed to the Noble Prophet (S) resumes the discussions raised in the preceding Verses against the disbelievers and reflects the aspects reflected above.
The blessed Verse addresses those who awaited oftentimes the death of the Noble Prophet (S) and his followers and the disappearance of his religion, saying:
According to some traditions, Meccan disbelievers cursed the Noble Prophet (S) and the Muslims and called for his death under the false impression that had he passed away, his Prophetic Call would disappear, but the blessed Verse was revealed to provide them with a reply.
Some other Qur’an exegetes suggest another exegesis for the blessed Verse saying that addressed to the Noble Prophet (S), the blessed Verse is asking him to say:
However, the former exegesis sounds to be more accurate.
In this light, the blessed Verse 29 is saying:
In other words, We believe in God Almighty and have chosen Him as our Guardian. The reason is crystal clear. He is the Most Gracious Lord. His Graciousness enwraps all things everywhere and friends and foes benefit from the Emanation of His Bounties.
A brief glance at the world of existence bears testimony to the argument, but what have your objects of worship done for you? Your error is plain herein, but it will be more obvious to you on the Day of Resurrection or even in this world when the Islamic faith, supported by Divine Aids, conquers the hosts of the disbelievers by a miraculous triumph and the truth will be more evident to you.
The blessed Verse is actually a kind of consolation to the Noble Prophet of the Islamic faith (S) and the believers in order to assure them of the all encompassing triumph of the truth and the total defeat of falsehood whose followers are all alone, but the Most Gracious Lord provides the believers with Support and Assistance.
Surah al-Mulk – Verse 30
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَن يَأْتِيكُم بِمَاءٍ مَّعِينٍ
30. Say: "Say unto me! If the water of you land were to sink away, who then can supply you with flowing water?"
Flowing water is mentioned herein as an instance of Divine Graciousness.
The preceding blessed Verse said:
but the blessed Verse in question is saying that the believers put their trust in God Almighty since if the water sank away into the earth, no one can supply you with flowing water but God Almighty.
Thus, the closing Verse of the Chapter in question suggests an instance of Divine Graciousness enwrapping all the world of existence, though many people accord no attention to it:
It is common knowledge that the earth consists of two different layers: the penetrable and the impenetrable layers. The former absorbs the water and the latter preserves it.
All fountains, wells, and subterranean aqueducts have come into being owing to the twain layers, since had all the earth been penetrable to a great depth, the water would have sunk into the earth so such depth that it would have been inaccessible. Now, had all the layers been impenetrable, the water would have stagnated and turned into mires or immediately found its way into the sea and thus all subterranean water reservoirs would have been lost.
It is merely one instance of the Divine Graciousness encompassing the world to which human life and death is closely associated. The Arabic word ma‘in, cognate with ma‘n ("water flow") and according to some with ‘ayn whose /m/ is redundant, is taken by some Qur’an exegetes as connoting the water which is visible even though stagnant, though the majority of the exegetes maintain that it herein implies "flowing water."
It is noteworthy that drinking water is not restricted to flowing water, but they represent the best types of water, appearing in different forms, e.g. rivers, subterranean aqueducts, and artesian wells.
It is reported by some Qur’an exegetes that upon hearing the blessed Verse:
"The robust men using pickaxes will draw water out of the depth of the earth,"
but while asleep at night he dreamt that black water encompassed his eyes and heard some voice saying:
"Bring those robust men and sharp axes to draw such black water out of your eyes."
Today, it is known that had the impenetrable layer of the earth disappeared, neither robust men nor sharp axes may extract water out of the earth.15
Finally, the traditions narrated from the Noble Shi‘i Imams (as) reflect that the last blessed Verse alludes to the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS, may God Almighty hasten his noble reappearance) and his world wide justice administration.
In this vein, it is narrated from Imam Baqir (as) on the exegesis of the blessed Verse in question as saying:
"The blessed Verse is revealed concerning the Imam (as) [namely Imam Mahdi, the Twelfth Shi‘i Imam] who will rise to imbue the world with Divine Justice, saying that if your Imam entered Occultation and you were unaware of his whereabouts, Who will send you an Imam to expound to you the news of the heavens and the earth and the lawful and the unlawful of Divine Laws?'
Then he said:
'Its exegesis shall finally come to pass."16
Numerous traditions have been narrated in this respect, but it is noteworthy that they all serve to provide comparisons. In other words, the literal sense of the blessed Verse concerns flowing water as the source of life for animate beings, though the esoteric meaning of it is on the existence of the Imam and his all encompassing knowledge and justice which in turn are the sources of the life of society.
It has been mentioned many a time above that the Holy Qur’an possesses numerous exoteric and esoteric meanings, but we lay emphasis on the point that the esoteric meanings of the Qur’an are exclusively known to the Noble Prophet (S) and the Infallible Imams (as) and it is not permissible to suggest anything of one’s own regarding the esoteric meanings of the Qur’anic Verses.
Likewise, what we say concerns the exoteric meanings of the Verses and the esoteric meanings of them are to be solely transmitted on the authority of the Infallibles (as).
Surah al-Mulk opens with Divine Sovereignty and Ownership and closes with His Graciousness which branches off from His Sovereignty and Ownership and thus, the opening and the closing of the blessed Chapter are consistent and harmonious.
O Lord! Grant us Your Graciousness bestowed upon every being and your particular servants. Allow us to drink the elixir of the Divine Guardianship of Your Friends! O Lord! Hasten the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as), the fountain of the water of life and let those thirsty for his beauty be satisfied by his reappearance.
- 1. Tafsir Majma‘ al-Bayan and other exegetic works.
- 2. Ibid.
- 3. Tafsir Safi, under the blessed Verse in question.
- 4. Galaxies consist of series of stars which are also well-known as "the cities of the stars." Despite their proximity, the distance amongst them at times approximates millions of light years.
- 5. Usul Kafi; Nur al-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 382.
- 6. Jami‘ Ahadith al-Shi‘a, vol. 13, p. 2840.
- 7. 30:2
- 8. 3:169
- 9. 40:40
- 10. 11:49
- 11. 67:26
- 12. 7:187
- 13. Majma‘ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 33.
- 14. Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 5, p. 385.
- 15. Tafsir Abu al-Futuh Razi, vol. 11, p. 219.
- 16. Tafsir Nur al-Thiqalayn, vol. 5, p. 387.