Surat al-Mulk – The Control
Juz 29 starts with Surat al-Mulk. The central theme of this Surat is the purpose of life which is an opportunity to earn Allah’s pleasure and love by doing good works. The Surat points to the common failure to understand this simple fact. Those who deny will regret: “If only we had listened or understood the message, we would not be among the companions of the Blazing Hell” (10). The splendour of nature affirms the existence of spiritual reality beyond the material world. There follows a stern warning against failing to see beyond the material world, “Which forces beside the Most Kind can possibly help you? The disbelievers are only deceived” (20).
Surat al-Qalam – The Pen
This early-Makkan Surat warns the people of Makkah: if you refuse to believe in the Messenger ﷺ, then be prepared to face severe consequences like previous disobedient nations did. It opens by acknowledging the beautiful character of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: kind, generous, patient, forgiving and thankful. This is contrasted with the vices of al-Walid ibn al-Mughira a ruthless opponent of the Messenger ﷺ. And the story of the young owners of the orchard highlights the appalling nature of miserliness.
Surat al-Haqqa – The Reality
The core teaching of the Majestic Quran is faith in the Hereafter. The reality of worldly life is a mere shadow in comparison. The physical world is the apparent but the underlying reality is the Hereafter. The Quran, in its inimitable style, presents the Hereafter as “here and now”. The Surat challenges our materialistic tendencies and reminds the reader to remember the horrors of Judgment Day. The examples of previous disobedient communities are a warning to the neglectful.
Surat al-Ma‘arij – The Stairways to Heavens
It was revealed in the middle Makkan period. It criticises the sceptics who wanted the punishment to come sooner rather than later. Once the Messenger ﷺ warned a storyteller, Nadhr ibn Harith, of the punishment of Hell. He mockingly retorted, “Why don’t you bring a sandstorm that will destroy us?” The Surat was revealed in response to this tactless demand. It reminds the questioner of the Majesty of Allah and the stairways leading to the heavens that can take people to their spiritual heights. This section vividly captures the terrifying moments of the end of time. The sky will turn red, the mountains will hang like fluffed tufts of wool and everyone will be full of fear and anxiety. The Surat ends by reminding us of the good character of the dutiful worshipper: caring and generous and in full control of his sexual appetite.
Surat Nuh – Noah
This Makkan Surat sketches the life and works of this great prophet of Allah and his struggle against the unbelievers. The story comes as a reassurance for the Prophet ﷺ and the early Muslims. They would be saved and their enemies destroyed. For nine and half centuries, the Prophet Nuh preached tirelessly. He presented convincing evidence from the natural world around him and from history but, his words fell on deaf ears. The people were stubborn and couldn’t see beyond the physical realm. The Surat presents a heartrending prayer, his moving sermon and finally his prayer of desperation in its final section.
Surat al-Jinn – The Jinn
According to Ibn ‘Abbas, a group of jinn visited the Prophet ﷺ after he returned from Taif. The central theme is challenging the stubbornness and disbelief of the Quraysh. The jinn believed in the Messenger ﷺ whereas the Quraysh, to their shame rejected him. The jinn speak about believing the Messenger ﷺ and the Revelation, whilst the materialistic disbelievers think the Quran is mere poetry, or the words of a soothsayer or worse, a madman. It also reassured the Messenger ﷺ of the truthfulness of his message, building his confidence and self-esteem. The jinn are an invisible and intelligent creation of Allah, made from smokeless fire, a high-energy form. Like humans, they can be either believers or disbelievers. The Surat outlines some of their characteristics and some similarities and differences to human beings. It reveals their amazement and surprise at the inability of Makkans to believe in the Majestic Quran.
Surat al-Muzammil – The Wrapped Up
This is an early Makkan Surat, possibly the second after Surat ‘Alaq. The first part of the Surat highlights the worries of the Prophet ﷺ about his mission. It describes the devotion of the Messenger ﷺ, his longing for Allah and his recitation of the Quran. The final long verse was revealed in Madinah and it gives flexibility to the Prophet ﷺ and the companions in relation to the length of their night vigils. The blessed Messenger ﷺ is presented as the beautiful example of a worshipper, who stands all night in worship, whilst others sleep.
Surat al-Muddaththir – The Cloaked One
The Angel Jibreel stopped coming to the Prophet ﷺ after the first revelation of Surat ‘Alaq. This break may have lasted for a year or so and this was the first revelation after the break. The Prophet ﷺ is reminded of his important status and role in transforming humanity. The opening verses clearly instruct him to be energetic and forthright in preaching the message, without fear of anyone. He is being prepared for the hostility he will soon face. His opponent Walid ibn al-Mughira is criticised. The Quran also presents this principle: “Every person is endangered by the evil it has done, except the companions of the right hand” (38). So, every person is a hostage only, of his own wrongdoing. An empowering verse.
Surat al-Qiyamah – The Day of Judgement
An early Makkan Surat with the central theme of the Day of Judgement. It describes the scenes of that Day: disintegrated human bones will be brought to life, a lunar eclipse will occur, people will be overwhelmed and confused. It will dawn upon them that they are standing in front of the Mighty Lord and justice will be done. They will see their whole life presented before them and still make excuses for their wretched behaviour. Abu Jahl once brought a decaying bone to the Prophet ﷺ and asked, “Can this be brought back to life?” The Surat answers him: “You love the fleeting world dearly” (20). He is warned about his death throes when he will die, and no one will be able to cure him.
Surat al-Insan – Man
This is a Madani Surat, which asserts that humanity is blessed with the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and is therefore accountable. A terse reminder of the purpose of human life. Followed by a precise description of the good people. They fulfil their vows, fear Judgement Day, are generous and selfless and take care of the poor and needy. For these wonderful deeds, they will have the delights of Paradise. A reward for their patience and hard work.
Surat al Mursalat – The Winds
Five oaths describe the incredible power of the wind: from the calm morning breeze to the gusty winds that move the clouds, to gale-force winds that create storms on land and sea, and hurricanes and cyclones. The catchphrase, “That will be a Day of big loss for the deniers!” is repeated ten times. A counsel to the stubborn people: open your eyes, overcome your ignorance and egotism. And a stark warning to the disbelievers, of the consequences of their disbelief. A powerful rhetorical device for conveying a difficult message. Humans are reminded of their humble beginnings, from a sperm and an egg. The One who produced you from that embarrassing fluid is very capable of resurrecting you from the dead.
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