67. Al-Mulk (The Kingdom)
This sūrah of 30 verses was revealed in Makkah. It derives its name from the first verse where the word Al-Mulk (The Kingdom or The Sovereignty) occurs. The basic points the sūrah deals with are the testimony of the universe to God’s Oneness, the end of the unbelievers who pay no heed to God’s Messages, God’s favors to humankind, and human dependence on God in both worlds.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. Blessed and Supreme is He in Whose Hand is the Sovereignty; and He has full power over everything:
2. He Who has created death and life,1 so that He may try you (and demonstrate to yourselves) which of you is better in deeds. And He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might (Whose will none can frustrate), the All-Forgiving (Who forgives many of His servants’ sins so that they learn from being tested);
3. He Who has created seven heavens2 in harmony. You do not see any fault or incongruity in the creation of the All-Merciful. Look yet again: can you see any rifts?
4. Then look again and yet again (and however often you do so, with whatever instruments to aid your looking), your sight will fall back to you dazzled (by the splendor of God’s creation), and awed and weakened (being unable to discern any flaw to support any excuse for claiming that there could be any sharing in the dominion of the universe).3
5. And, indeed, We have adorned the lowest heaven (the heaven of the world) with lamps (stars), and made (out of) them missiles to drive away devils; and for them, We have prepared (in the Hereafter) the punishment of the Blaze.4
6. And also for those who disbelieve in their Lord is the punishment of Hell. How evil a destination to arrive at!
7. When they are cast into it, they will hear its raucous breath (by which they are sucked in) as it boils up,
8. Almost bursting with fury. Every time a group is cast into it,5 its keepers will ask them: “Did no warner ever come to you?”
9. They will say: “Yes, indeed, a warner came to us, but we denied (him) and said (to him): “God has never sent down anything; you are only in a great error.”
10. They will say: “If only we had listened (to him) or reasoned (and distinguished what was to our benefit from what was to our harm, and acted accordingly), we would not (now) be among the companions of the Blaze.”
11. Thus will they acknowledge their sins, but God’s mercy will (then) be far from the companions of the Blaze!
12. As for those who stand in awe of their Lord though unseen (beyond their perception), for them there is forgiveness (to bring unforeseen blessings), and a great reward.
13. Whether you keep concealed what you intend to say or speak it out loud, He surely has full knowledge of all that lies in the bosoms.
14. Is it conceivable that One Who creates should not know?6 He is the All-Subtle (penetrating to the most minute dimensions of all things), the All-Aware.
15. He it is Who has made the earth subservient to you (as if a docile animal), so go about through its shoulders (uplands) and eat of His provision,7 but (be ever mindful that) to Him will be the Resurrection.
16. And yet, are you secure that He Who is above everything will not cause the earth to swallow you up then, when it is in a state of commotion?
17. Or are you secure that He Who is above everything will not send against you a deadly sand-storm? Then you will know how My warning is.
18. Indeed, those before them denied (the truth and were destroyed). So (reflect on) how awesome was My disowning them!
19. Have they never considered the birds above them, flying in lines with wings they spread out and fold in? Nothing holds them up except the All-Merciful. He indeed sees everything very well.
20. Who is there that will be an “army” for you, (a means of strength and support) to help you (to survive or succeed), apart from the All-Merciful? The unbelievers are surely in nothing but delusion.
21. Who is there that can provide for you if He should withhold His provision? No, but they persist in disdain and aversion (in obstinate flight from truth and reality).
22. (Now consider:) is one who goes prone upon his face (with no breadth or depth to his line of sight, barely seeing what is touching his face) better guided, or one who goes upright (with a clear line of sight to what is ahead of him) on a straight path?
23. Say: “He it is Who has brought you into being and endowed you with hearing, and eyes, and hearts. How little you give thanks!
24. Say: “He it is Who has multiplied you on the earth, and (it is) to Him you will be gathered (to give account of your life on that earth).
25. They say (questioning with derision): “When is this promise (of gathering) to be fulfilled, if you are truthful (in your claim)?”
26. Say: “The knowledge (of that, and true and full knowledge of all things) is with God. And I am but a plain warner.”
27. But then, when they see it close at hand, the faces of those who disbelieve turn black with grief, and it will be said to them (who had been so mocking): “This is what you were calling for (derisively).”
28. Say: “Have you ever considered (this): whether God destroys me and those in my company, or He has mercy on us (and enables us to attain victory), then who is there that can protect the unbelievers from a painful punishment?”
29. Say: “He is the All-Merciful. In Him, We believe; and in Him, we put our trust. So you will soon come to know who it is that is lost in obvious error.”8
30. Say: “Have you ever considered (this): if your water should vanish underground (leaving you with no source of water), who is there that can bring to you (a source to replace it of) gushing water?”
1. Death is not the end of a life or the removal of life from living things or beings. Rather, it is something that is created, like life. God creates death in a living thing or being and so that thing or being dies. Since God’s creation is at all times beautiful, death is also beautiful. This is because all human beings have an intrinsic feeling of eternity, and so feel imprisoned in the narrow confines of the material world as they yearn for eternity. Whoever is aware of his or her conscious nature will hear it pronouncing eternity, over and over again. If we were given the whole universe, we would still hunger for the eternal life for which we have been created. This natural inclination toward eternal happiness comes from an objective reality: the existence of eternal life and our desire for it. Death is the door that opens onto eternity.
Those who believe and live righteous lives are greeted with opened windows from the places reserved for them in Paradise. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, stated that the souls of the righteous are drawn out as gently as flowing water from a pitcher. Even better than that, martyrs do not feel the agony of death and do not even know that they are dead. Instead, they consider themselves as being transferred to a better world and enjoy perfect happiness.
Although death seems to bring decomposition, extinguish life, and destroy pleasure, in fact, it represents a Divine discharge from the heavy duties of worldly life. It is no more than a change of residence, a transference of the body—an invitation to, and the beginning of, everlasting life. It releases us from the hardships of this worldly life, which is a turbulent, suffocating, narrow dungeon that gradually becomes harder with old age and illness, and admits us to the infinitely wide circle of the mercy of Eternal, Beloved One. There, we may enjoy the everlasting company of our beloved ones and the consolation of a happy, eternal life.
The world is continually enlivened through acts of creation and death. Death leads to a more perfect life. The dying of plants, the simplest level of life, proves itself a work of Divine artistry, like their lives, but one that is even more perfect and better designed. When the seed of a fruit dies in the soil, it seems to decompose and rot away. But in reality, it undergoes a perfect chemical process, passing through predetermined stages of re-formation, and ultimately grows again into an elaborate, new tree. So a seed’s death is really the beginning of a new tree— a new, more perfect and elaborate life. Since the death of fruit, vegetables, and meat in our stomachs causes them to rise to the degree of human life, in this sense their death can be regarded as more perfect than their lives. Since the dying of plants is so perfect and serves so great a purpose, our deaths, given that we are the highest form of life, must be much more perfect and serve a still greater purpose. Once we have gone underground, we certainly will be brought into eternal life.
2. See sūrah 2: 29, note 28.
3. Said Nursi describes the splendour of the universe in his inimitable style: The universe is like a magnificent palace, a well-ordered factory, or a well-planned city, all of whose elements or parts are interrelated with one another and with the whole of it, all at the same time, and which work together for great purposes. Even over long distances, elements hasten to help each other when needed and do not get lost. For example, the sun and the moon, day and night, and summer and winter work with plants to help animals and to help convey their food to them, which they take from the treasury of Mercy. Animals hasten to help human beings. For example, honeybees and silkworms take honey and silk from the treasury of the All-Merciful and prepare them for the use of humankind. Particles of soil, air, and water help fruit and vegetation, each of which has a different taste and quality of nourishment. In turn, they help the body’s cells in perfect orderliness and for great purposes.
This perfect, purposeful, and well-arranged mutual helping is manifested by all of those things, especially inanimate objects. It is also an evident proof and clear argument that they are servants of an All-Wise Sustainer, workers controlled by a Munificent Manager, who all work by His command and leave, and by His Power and Wisdom.
On the surface of this planet, we observe acts of ever-original and purposeful creation. These occur in infinite abundance together with beautiful and perfect artistry; with absolute ease and in perfect order and arrangement; at incredible speed with no loss of proportion, firmness, or substantiality; and in an infinite distribution of species together with each individual’s infinite beauty. These acts occur with the greatest economy or lowest cost imaginable, yet every individual is priceless, distinguished perfectly from everything else while having the highest correspondence and similarity between and among species, despite the vast distances of time and space. They are in balance with an absolute variety, a perfect individualization of characters and features, though generated from similar or even the same materials, structural principles, and organization. Each thing is enough to manifest the stamp of the One and Single Creator and Lord. Perfect artistry despite abundance, perfect order despite absolute ease, perfect measure, proportion, and firmness despite incredible speed, perfect individualization despite world-wide distribution, the highest price and value despite the greatest economy, perfect distinction despite absolute integration and similarity – all point to the One, Single Creator and Lord, Who has absolute Will, Power, and Knowledge (Mathnawī an-Nūriyah, 51–52 )
4. As stated in sūrah 65, note 7, the earth and the heavens are interconnected like two countries under one government, and there are journeys between them. Important necessities for the earth are sent from the heavens; pure spirits travel to the heavens; and evil spirits, in imitation of pure ones, attempt to travel to the heavenly abode. Physically, these are subtle beings made of smokeless fire. However, they will certainly be repulsed and repelled, for by nature, they are evil and unclean. As the silence and tranquility, the order and serene regularity of the heavens, and their vastness and radiance show, their inhabitants are not like those of the earth; they are all obedient to God and do whatever He commands them. There is nothing to cause quarrels or disputes among them because they are innocent, their realm is vast, their nature is pure, and their stations are fixed. So when devils or evil spiritual beings attempt to ascend to the heavens, the pure inhabitants there are mobilized to repel them.
Without a doubt, there must be a sign or reflection in the visible, material world of this important interaction and contest. For the wisdom of the sovereignty of Divine Lordship requires that the Lord should put a sign, an indication, for conscious beings, particularly for humankind, whose most important duty is observing, witnessing, supervising, and acting as a herald to His significant disposals in the realm of the Unseen. This is just as He has made the rain and the sun’s heat a sign for them to explain, in physical terms, His countless miracles in spring, and has also made apparent (natural) causes as the indications of the wonders of His art, so that He may call the inhabitants of the visible, material world to witness them, indeed to attract the attentive gaze of all the inhabitants of the vast heavens and the earth to that amazing exhibition. That is, He displays the vast heavens as a castle or a city arrayed with towers on which sentries are posted, so that those inhabitants of the heavens and earth may reflect on the majesty of His Lordship.
Since wisdom requires the announcement of this elevated contest, there will surely be a sign for it. However, other than the fact that some stars are being used as “missiles” against the devils, no event among those of the atmosphere and heavens seems to be appropriate to this announcement. For it is evident how suitable these stellar events are for the repulsion of the devils, events that resemble missiles and rockets fired from the formidable bastions of high castles. Furthermore, unlike other events that take place in the heavens, no other function is known for such stellar events. In addition, this function has been widely recognized since the time of Adam, and witnessed by those who know the reality of things and events.
Like angels and other creatures, there are also many different varieties of stars. Some are extremely small, and some are extremely large. Everything that shines in the sky can be called a star. One sort of star is that which the Majestic Creator, the Gracious Maker, has created as a sort of jewel on the face of the sky or like the shining fruit of a vast tree. He has also made them places of excursion or mounts or dwelling-places for His angels. He has made one sort of small star a missile to drive off devils and kill them. Thus, firing these shooting stars to repulse devils may have three meanings:
The first: It is a sign that there is a contest (among conscious beings) in the vastest sphere of existence.
The second: It indicates that in the heavens there are watchful guards and obedient inhabitants, i.e., Divine forces, who do not like the earthly evil-doers to mix with and eavesdrop on them.
The third: The spying devils, who are representatives of the foulness and wickedness of the earth, attempt to soil the clean and pure realm of the heavens inhabited by pure beings, and spy on the conversations of their inhabitants in the name of evil spirits (disbelieving jinn and their human companions who try to mislead people, particularly through sorcery, medium-ship, and soothsaying). Shooting stars are fired to prevent these and to repulse them from the doors of the heavens (See The Words, “The 15th Word,” 192–199).
At this point, one might ask what some commonly observed and scientifically verified astronomical events might signify, such as a meteor shower. The Perseid meteor shower, for example, which is observed almost every year, suggests that such meteors are shot for certain, yet unknown, important purposes. The observations made in 1993, for example, demonstrate the fact that the structure of the shower is yet little understood.
According to information given by the International Meteor Organization about the events of the 1993 shower (Astronomy, October 1993), the first results posted for the night of August 11th – 12th of that year came from Japan. Up to 20:30 UT on August 11th, the meteor rates were found to be normal, and a zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of 40 meteors per hour (m/h) was tentatively assigned to the shower at that time.
However, preliminary data from European observers indicated that the rates gradually increased to a ZHR of the order of 100 m/h between 20:00 UT on August 11th and 01:00 UT onAugust 12th. Observers in France also reported a noticeable increase in rates after 00:30 UT, August 12th, with the rate being about twice the ‘normal’ rate. The rates continued to climb between 01:00 and 03:00 UT, and a preliminary ZHR of 200–250 m/h was ascribed to this period. The rates appeared to reach a maximum between 03:00 and 03:30 UT; the ZHR at its maximum was estimated to be of the order of 500 m/h. Later observations from the Canary Islands indicated that the rates began to decline after 04:00 UT.
Higher than normal rates were also reported by many observers in the United States and Japan. As observed by Martin Beech, in Astronomy, 1993 (pg 11), the results clearly indicated that the shower did not behave as predicted. Speculation about a possible meteor storm proved incorrect. Another unexpected feature in 1993 was the high number of bright fireballs observed. Observers reported something like five times the normal level of Perseid fireballs on the night of August 11th – 12th. The Perseid shower once again demonstrated how difficult it is to predict meteor shower activity.
A. Cressy Morrison (p. 100) mentions, as a typical human characteristic, the reluctance to give up fixed ideas and the stubborn resistance to accepting unfamiliar truths. The early Greeks knew that the earth was spherical, but it took two thousand years to convince (Western) men that this fact was true. New ideas encounter opposition, ridicule and abuse, but truth survives and is verified. Neither scientific studies nor developments in science can offer any excuse not to accept God. What we observe in nature, and what we obtain from it, must encourage us to know Him more closely and to see the strong bridge between science and religion, the world and the Hereafter, and between reason and spirit.
5. See sūrah 8: 37; sūrah 39: 71.
6. This is of high significance. Humans who manufacture something prepare a manual to describe how it must be used, and we use it according to that guide. This means that one who manufactures it knows it best, and that only one who truly knows can manufacture it. So God, being the All-Knowing, creates; and, being the Creator, He knows all that He creates. Thus, we must conclude that One Who knows and creates is entitled to, and should, control and govern it, because only the One Who creates and knows can govern what He creates in the best way. However, it shows the injustice and ignorance of humankind that while they claim authority over what they make or manufacture, they deny God’s authority over what He creates.
7. The phrase, going about through the shoulders of the earth means that although it is impossibly difficult to travel on the shoulders of a horse or camel, the earth is more compliant to humankind than a trained camel or horse. In addition, the verse implies that God’s provision exists more on the shoulders of the earth (the mountains and uplands) and the plains among them. So the verse calls humanity to explore the mountains for the provision God has created in them.
8. The last verses contain a strong argument for God’s Existence and Oneness, silencing the opponents. “We have believed in God and do rely on Him. If, supposing the inconceivable, we were mistaken, what harm would we suffer? But if we are true and you deny a truth, which is the greatest and most important truth of life and being, then who will be able to save you from the consequence of your denial, which is eternal punishment?”