The 29th juz of the Quran begins with the 67th surah called Al- Mulk or the Dominion. The chapter derives its name from the words contained in the first verse of the surah. After the Bismillah the chapter begins as, “Full of blessings is He in whose hand is the Kingdom of the Universe, and He has power over everything.” The word Al Mulk in the verse is what attributes the name of the chapter. Few scholars have also called it as ‘the Bountiful’, ascertaining it from the word ‘tabarak’, which is the first word of the verse.
This surah belongs to the middle meccan period of the revelation. However the exact time of it being revealed to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is not known. The general composition of the chapter can be divided into three portions:
- The first part is the demonstration of Allah’s power, the divine attributes and the unique ways in which Allah has created this earth and the afterlife as a sign for those who take heed.
- The second portion is a description of the hereafter, the personification of hell fire that questions the ones who disbelieved.
- The last portion contains reminders of the conditions of those who disobeyed Allah and warnings against the torments in this world and hereafter.
Abu Huraira(may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet ﷺ, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is a chapter in the Quran of thirty verses which will intercede for its companion until he is forgiven. It is: Blessed is He in whose Hand is the kingdom.” (67:1) (Sunan Abu Dawud 1400, grade: Hasan)
Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet ﷺ, peace and blessings be upon him, would not go to sleep until he had recited, “The revelation of the Book…” (32:1) and, “Blessed is He in whose hand is the dominion…” (67:1) (Source: Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1207 Grade: Sahih (authentic))
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is a chapter in the Quran, not but thirty verses, which will intercede for its companion until he is entered into Paradise. It is the chapter, Blessed is He in whose hand is the dominion.” (67:1) (Source: Al-Mu’jam As-Sagheer At-Tabarani 463 Grade: Sahih (authentic))
‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Whoever reads ‘al-Mulk’ every night, Allaah will protect him from the torment of the grave. At the time of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ we used to call it al-mani’ah (that which protects). In the Book of Allah, there is a chapter [and] whoever recites it every night has done very well.”(at-Targhib wat-Tarhib, no. 1475 Grade: sahih (authentic))
Blessed is He in whose hand is the dominion of the Universe, and who has power over everything.
The very first verse of this chapter proclaims and recognises the beneficence and bounty of Allah. The word ‘tabarak’ is a superlative of barakat, which refers to exaltation and greatness. The superlative form, here, indicates that Allah is infinitely noble and great. The verse explains that Allah has power over everything, encompassing the highest degree of sovereignty of the universe.
The word mulk has the same root as ‘malakut’ used in verse 83 of surah Ya-sin (chapter 36). Both these words have been translated to mean dominion. However while former refers Allah being the lord of the visible world, the latter indicates the lordship of the invisible world. The verse shows that there exists no separation of power from beneficence as there is in the affairs of men. This verse stands profound in explaining how the attributes of Allah is very different from anything that the man has witnessed. This verse has a powerful message in the most subtle of a statement.
Who created death and life that He might try you as to which of you is better in deed. He is the Most Mighty, the Most Forgiving
The second verse is in continuity of the first verse. This verse explains that Allah is so powerful that he has the command over our death and life. It is interesting to see that Allah mentions death first and life later. In another part of the Quran (Najm 53:44) Allah puts death before life. The uniqueness of this phrase can refer to two conclusions; one, the state of non-existence before life began and the second the state of barzakh( barrier or partition), where after our visible death, we will be raised again to be judged according to our deeds. This verse also illustrates that human being is not born without a purpose. This life is merely a test and everything that we do in this world will have consequences in our afterlife. Allah therefore lays down great importance to the reality that this life is not of permanence. The Quran constantly amazes our senses as it perfects contrasts in every statement of Allah. The two names of Allah Al Aziz(the Exalted) and Al Ghafur(Oft-Forgiving) as contrasting as they may be are put together to enunciate how Allah is unique and so magnanimous.
(3) Who created the seven heavens one upon another; You will see no incongruity in the Merciful One’s creation. Turn your vision again, can you see any flaw?
(4)Then turn your vision again, and then again; in the end your vision will come back to you, worn out and frustrated.
This verse in its succession of the previous verse explains the power of Allah who has created the seven skies one upon the other. The word ‘tibaqa’ in the verse indicates one above another, the variation of which in another part of the Quran is used to illustrate the stages of life from the womb to old age, death and then afterlife. In chapter 65 (surah At Talaq), the verse 12 also explains how there are seven parts of the heaven. The word ‘tafawut’ in this verse explains how in the creation of Allah has no imperfection, how there is nothing out of proportion in everything in this universe. Allah challenges the people to find any ‘fitoor’ (imbalance or disorder) in this universe.
In the fourth verse, Allah asks the human being to turn their eyes towards the skies again and thus assures them that no matter how hard you try, your vision will come back to you, dull and discomfited. This is symbolic of how our eyes begin to water if we look towards the sky for too long. This also enunciates the power of Allah over our capabilities even to understand and acknowledge the wisdom of the All- Knowing.
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(5)And we have, [from of old], adorned the lowest heaven with Lamps, and We have made such [Lamps] [as] missiles to drive away the Evil Ones, and have prepared for them the Penalty of the Blazing Fire.
(6) For those who reject their Lord [and Cherisher] is the Penalty of Hell: and evil is [such], Destination.
The fifth verse of this chapter portrays a symbolic imagery of the planets, stars and other heavenly bodies. Allah proclaims that he has adorned the lowest heaven or the lowest of the seven heavens with lamps, signifying light and thus referring to the stars. The next portion of the verse mentions these lamps to be missiles to drive away the evil ones. The missiles obviously refer to the shooting stars that we see in the sky. The part where Allah asserts that these missiles drive away the evil ones has a strong reference to Iblis, who was banished from the heavens for disobeying Allah. It can also mean how Allah has created these stars and heavenly bodies as a sign of his magnificence and power; but anybody who indulges in fetishes about them or associate with them evil superstitions will be the evil ones for whom Allah has prepared a blazing fire.
The sixth verse of the surah uses a strong argument under the umbrage of the beauty and order of the heavens. The universe is filled with signs of Allah’s power in the form of balance, order and beauty. However when these stars meet with resistance or disharmony, referring to the imbalance in its chemical composition or a chemical reaction, it can burn and destroy. In the same line of reference, what can be a greater sign of disharmony or rebellion if the creation refused to acknowledge the creator or that he resists his generosity upon us? Allah calls for such men who reject their lord and cherisher to be punished with the penalty of hell.
(7)When they are cast therein, they will hear the [terrible] drawing in of its breath even as it blazes forth,
(8) Almost bursting with fury: Every time a Group is cast therein, its Keepers will ask, “Did no Warner come to you?”
( 9) They will say: “Yes indeed; a Warner did come to us, but we rejected him and said, ‘Allah never sent down any [Message]: ye are nothing but an egregious delusion!'”
(10) They will further say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not [now] be among the Companions of the Blazing Fire!”
(11) They will then confess their sins: but far will be [Forgiveness] from the Companions of the Blazing Fire!
The next portion of the chapter gives a vivid description of the hell fire and also consists of the conversation of its inhabitants with the blazing fire. The seventh verse is in continuance of the previous verse and Allah says that when the evil ones or those who reject the magnanimity of the Oft-Forgiving are brought to be punished in the hell, such men shall hear the terrible drawing in of the breath of the fire of hell. The hell fire is personified in order to bring forth its aggressiveness and hunger to punish those who did wrong on the earth. The word ‘shahiq’ in the verse is used to refer to the terrible intake of the hell fire or the imagery of fire devouring on those who are evil.
The next verse pulls imagery where the hell fire is shown to have almost burst with fury each time a group is brought to it. The keepers of the hell, the guarding angels shall ask every time a new group is brought in the hell; “did no Warner come to you?” the pure and holy nature of the angels are shown to have not understood the crookedness of the human evil and they are surprised at the number of disbelievers who are punished with the penalty of hell fire. In the following verse the group of the inhabitants reply and confess to their ignorance of the message of the messengers and the truth of Islam. They had time and again refused to accept the message and even persecuted the spiritual teachers. They even denied the possibility of such a message.
The tenth and eleventh verse of the chapter brings out the remorse of the disbelievers. They will say, “had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not (now) be among the companions of the blazing fire.” Allah has given the creation the ability to think and make informed decisions. Men have betrayed their capabilities and denied themselves the benefit of the message of Allah. They have failed to put their minds to use in the matters that would have filled their lives with prosperity and may be secure their afterlife. Alas! This remorse is futile; it is devoid of repentance as the time to repent has already passed.
(12) As for those who fear their Lord unseen, for them is Forgiveness and a great Reward.
(13) And whether ye hide your word or publish it, He certainly has [full] knowledge, of the secrets of [all] hearts.
(14) Should He not know,- He that created? and He is the One that understands the finest mysteries [and] is well-acquainted [with them].
The next portion of the chapter proclaims glad tidings for those who stood firm on their belief in the Lord. The twelfth verse proclaims that whosoever continued to stand by their belief in the Almighty, unseen, fear him and therefore loving him intensely and unconditionally wants for forgiveness so profound and rewarding. Fear and love have never stood on an equal footing in the human affairs. Love cannot flow from fear and vice versa. However these humanly concepts have an entire opposite connotation when it comes to the Love and Fear of Allah. Allah is Al Wadud (the loving one) and Allah is also Al Matin (the forceful one) Al Qadir (the All powerful) Al Jabbar (the compeller). These contrasting attributes of Allah is evident in itself how the love and fear of Allah can be one and the same thing.
Allah in the thirteenth verse warns to the men that he is Al-Alim, the All-Knowing and therefore he has the power to know everything. Even if a man takes a secret to his grave or reveals it to his most trusted confidant or even writes it down (publish it) in the darkest of rooms, Allah knows it all. Another aspect of this verse illustrates that even if a man tells a secret that is a lie or pretends something on paper or in a conversation, Allah knows what is in the hearts of men and he sees through any pretention or falsehood.
In the subsequent verse Allah imply the most logical of explanations. Any person, who is the maker of a product or a manufacturer of machine, shall know about its functions and deformities. In the same manner and much more, Allah being our creator shall know everything about his creation; no matter how hard men try to hide it. Our imperfect knowledge has led us to believe that mysteries exist, while Allah is well-acquainted with everything.
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It is He Who has made the earth manageable for you, so traverse ye through its tracts and enjoy of the Sustenance which He furnishes: but unto Him is the Resurrection.
The fifteenth verse reminds the man of the generosity of Allah, for he has created the earth and made it suitable for him to live and attain sustenance through it. The word ‘zulul’ has been translated to mean manageable or tractable. The earth has been made habitual for benefit of the human beings. Allah has filled this earth with everything that a man requires for his survival. It is not the bare minimum that Allah requires us to live with but he asks us to enjoy the means of sustenance that he has provided for but a man should not be heedless in his actions. In the last part of the verse, Allah clears it yet again that the hereafter is the ultimate end of the humanity. A man must not forget, in his material approach to life, the truth of the Day of Recompense.
(16)Do ye feel secure that He Who is in heaven will not cause you to be swallowed up by the earth when it shakes [as in an earthquake]?
(17)Or do ye feel secure that He Who is in Heaven will not send against you a violent tornado [with showers of stones], so that ye shall know how [terrible] was My warning?
(18)But indeed men before them rejected [My warning]: then how [terrible] was My rejection [of them]?
The sixteenth verse yet again challenges a man and brings him out of his reverie. Allah asks us as to how can we be so ignorant of the wrath of Allah. Does a man not know what Allah is capable of? Allah asks the man, does he not understand that Allah can cause the earth to swallow them as it shakes. The phrase ‘swallowed up’ has a reference to the story of Quran (Qasas 28:76-82); whom Allah had punished for being ignorant of the message of the people of Moses. Through this Allah seeks to remind the followers of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ of the punishment that was inflicted upon the ones who were heedless of the message of Allah.
The next verse then questions if the man is so secured of his well-being that he does not know that he can cause against him ‘a violent tornado’ with the showers of stones. This reference is made to remind the man of the punishment that was inflicted upon the cities that defied the warning of Prophet Lut (May Allah have blessings and mercy upon him), wherefore the showers of stone with a violent wind had destroyed the people and their homes for they took no heed of the warning of the messenger against the practice of homosexuality. The eighteenth verse thus concludes how the men had rejected the warnings of Allah (sent through the messengers) and how terrible was the penalty inflicted upon them.
(19) Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except [Allah] Most Gracious: Truly [Allah] Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things.
(20)Nay, who is there that can help you, [even as] an army, besides [Allah] Most Merciful? In nothing but delusion are the Unbelievers.
(21)Or who is there that can provide you with Sustenance if He were to withhold His provision? Nay, they obstinately persist in insolent impiety and flight [from the Truth].
(22) Is then one who walks headlong, with his face grovelling, better guided,- or one who walks evenly on a Straight Way?
The verse nineteenth of the chapter uses the example of the way the birds fly in the air to illustrate the wonderful manner in which Allah has created this universe. The verse “Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in?” challenges a man to observe how Allah has made the birds to soar with their wings open and dive as they close them in. The manner in which the birds fly is the very principle that developed the science of aeronautics. Allah therefore questions a man as to how can he not see how his creator has created the universe and provided him with intelligence enough to develop science and technology. The verse uses the word ‘saffat’ and ‘yaqbidhna’ to indicate the continuous soaring on outspread of wings and the spasmodic flapping of wings, respectively. Allah is then addressed as Ar-Rahman (the most Gracious) and the Al- Basir (the Seer of all).
The twentieth verse of the chapter assures a man of the supremacy of Allah over everything. The verse clearly mentions that even if a man could build up an army, most powerful and well-equipped, it cannot stand against the wrath of Allah. We can remind ourselves of the story of Abraha Ashram, an Abyssinian governor who had led the expedition to destroy Ka’aba (chapter 105, Surah Fil), who with his powerful army was destroyed by the stones thrown by the birds. The first war of Islam, the Battle of Badr saw an army of 1000 of Quraish against the mere 313 believers. But even then, the strongest of army was met with defeat for they stood against Allah. Allah calls such unbelievers as being delusion.
The following verse thereafter questions as to who shall provide for the human being if his creator was to withhold his blessings. The Quran mentions that such men, blinded by their ignorance, continue and persist in insolent impiety and refuse to acknowledge the truth.
The twenty-second verse points out the two kind of a man, one, who chooses evil, walks headlong with his face grovelling, and the second, who is a man of probity is guided and walks evenly on a straight path. Allah therefore questions as to who is on a better footing in his akhirah. One who follows an evil path or the one who follows a path of righteousness? Such a man is only aware of what is on the earth; he disregards any wisdom sent from the above. The two kinds of men are poles apart, even though they were blessed with same message, the same signs and the same truth of the hereafter; they are extremely different from the righteous ones for they had chosen ignorance.
(23)Say; “It is He Who has created you [and made you grow], and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give.
(24)Say: “It is He Who has multiplied you through the earth, and to Him shall ye be gathered together.”
(25) They ask: When will this promise be [fulfilled]? – If ye are telling the truth.
(26) Say: “As to the knowledge of the time, it is with Allah alone: I am [sent] only to warn plainly in public.”
(27) At length, when they see it close at hand, grieved will be the faces of the Unbelievers, and it will be said [to them]: “This is [the promise fulfilled], which ye were calling for!”
(28) Say: “See ye?- If Allah were to destroy me, and those with me, or if He bestows His Mercy on us,- yet who can deliver the Unbelievers from a grievous Penalty?”
(29) Say: “He is [Allah] Most Gracious: We have believed in Him, and on Him have we put our trust: So, soon will ye know which [of us] it is that is in manifest error.”
(30) Say: “See ye?- If your stream be some morning lost [in the underground earth], who then can supply you with clear-flowing water?”
The last portion of the chapter consists of the series of directions to the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to be given to the people. The first instruction, in the verse twenty-three, Allah has asked the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to proclaim that it is Allah who has created the human being, has blessed him with the faculties of hearing, of seeing, the ability to understand and feel the emotions. Allah thereafter says even with all these capabilities we are being ungrateful and disrespectful for we choose to employ these faculties for every object other than the one for which these had been granted (to see the truth).
The second instruction in verse twenty-four, asks the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to remind the people that it is Allah who has multiplied and scattered the human beings from one set of parents. Thereafter as it has already been pointed out several times in the Quran, to Allah we shall all return and face the Day of Judgment.
The third instruction contained in the verses twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth; is in fact a reply to the questions put up by the disbelievers for they are skeptical about when the Day of Judgment will arrive. Allah says; “as to the knowledge of the time, it is with God alone”; the Day of the Judgment is certain to come, but the exact hour of it is not known, that knowledge is with God alone. Allah even asks the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to proclaim that the messenger has been sent only to warn the public, it is not for him to punish or hasten the punishment of evil. The next verse puts forth the misgivings of the disbelievers who when they see the Day of Judgment close at hand will fill with horrible misfortune, their faces will reveal grief and regret, but it shall be too late. They stood laughing at the ones who stood firm on their faith and now when they see the truth in their faces, they will weep and be dismayed but it shall be of no consequence.
The fourth instruction in the verse twenty-eighth requires the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to declare that it doesn’t matter if Allah bestowed the Prophet ﷺ and his followers with mercy or destroyed them, for it shall not change the condition of the disbelievers. Such men choose to persecute the one showing them the righteous path, laugh and ignore the truth of the hereafter. They cannot be delivered from the grievous penalty; it shall not solve their problem, no matter what Allah does with the believers.
The fifth instruction, verse twenty-ninth, seeks the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to profess that Allah is Ar Rahman (the Merciful, the Gracious) and that the Prophet ﷺ and his followers have believed in him and have trusted him with the utmost. The last part of this verse asserts that the one who disbelieved will soon know as to who are the ones who have stood in a manifest state of error. This proclamation is evident of a firm belief and faith of the Prophet ﷺ and those who followed him.
The last instruction in the last verse of the Chapter, is a warning wherefore Allah through the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that who would come to their aid if the stream were to be lost, if the water was to be absorbed by the earth? This is actually a reference going back to the first verse of the chapter; wherefore Allah, “in whose hand is the dominion”. He is the supreme lord, the Cherisher, the King. A king is known by his throne and the throne of Allah is upon water (Hud 11:7); since water is considered to be the source of all life, the throne of Allah is metaphorically expressed as over waters i.e. regulating all life. The rain is considered to be one of the signs of Allah’s divinity, which are in fact the droplets of his ‘arsh’ (throne). Therefore Allah questions, if this King stops giving us the water from his throne, what would be then the condition of the ones who are ignorant of his generosity? Thus the last verse connects itself to the first verse of the chapter, reminding us of the supremacy, the sovereignty of Allah over everything in the visible and invisible world.
The foremost reason why this surah was told by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to have such an importance is because it describes in detail, the punishment of Allah. This life is a manifestation of Allah’s love and mercy upon the human beings. It is not a curse but a blessing, not filled with hardships but tests, not devoid of happiness but filled with love of the Almighty, only if we were to reflect and act upon the truth. If Allah was in fact angry with us and had declared our lives to be damned because of our misgivings, if there was no hope, we would already be dead. We continue to breathe because Allah still expects and sees good in us, there is hope, there still exists a possibility for us to enjoy the mercy of Allah, if we were to repent and make tawbah.
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