Reflections on Surah Qaf

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  (1-5) Qaf. By the Glorious Qur’an! Yet[1] they are amazed that a warner, one of their own, has come to them. The disbelievers exclaim,[2] ‘How bizarre is this! When we have died and become dust . . . ? That would be a most unlikely return!’ We know exactly how the earth decays their bodies and We keep a Book that preserves all. But they denied the truth when it came to them. They are, therefore, in a state of extreme confusion.

  (6-11) Have they not looked at the sky above them: how We structured it and decked it out, devoid of rifts and flaws? And the earth: We stretched it out, cast firmly embedded mountains onto it and caused luxuriant species of every kind to grow in it. An instruction and reminder (is this) for every penitent servant. From the sky We sent down blessed water by which We made gardens grow, grain for harvesting, and soaring palms with thick clusters of dates, all as provision for the servants. With it We revived a land that was dead, thus will be the Emergence.

  (12-15) Before them the people of Noah denied (the truth), as did the Companions of Rass and Thamud, so too `Ad, Pharaoh and the brethren of Lot, and the Forest Dwellers[3] and the people of Tubba`. Each one denied the Messengers and so My threat proved true. Were We incapable of the first creation? Yet they are in a quandary about a new creation.

  (16-22) We created man and We know what his own soul whispers to him: We are closer to him than his jugular vein, with the two Receiving (Angels) recording, one sitting on the right, the other on the left: he does not utter a single word without a watcher by him, alert and ready! The throes of death come revealing the truth: ‘This is what you were evading!’[4] The Trumpet will be blown: ‘This is the Day of the Threat!’ Every soul will come together with a driver [urging it along] and a witness [to his deeds]: ‘You were heedless of this (Day); We have now removed your covering and today your sight is sharp as steel.’

  (23-29) His inseparable attendant[5] will say, ‘This is what I have, [your record] made ready.’ ‘You two,[6] hurl into Hell every obdurate disbeliever: hinderer of good, aggressor, fomenter of doubt,[7] who adopted another god along with Allah. Hurl him into the terrible punishment.’ His inseparable attendant[8] will say, ‘Our Lord, I did not make him overstep the mark, he had already gone far astray himself.’ He will say, ‘Do not argue in My presence seeing that I forewarned you of the Threat. (My) Word, once given, cannot be changed and I am not one to wrong (My) servants.’

  (30-35) On the Day We will say to Hell, ‘Are you full?’ and it will ask, ‘Are there any more?’ Paradise will be brought close to those mindful of Allah, not far at all: ‘This is what you were promised. It is for every penitent person who upkeeps (his covenant): those who fear the All-Merciful, though He is unseen,[9] and come with a penitent heart. Enter it in peace. This is the Day of Eternity.’ They will have all that they wish there and We have more besides.

  (36-45) How many generations before them, even mightier than them, have We destroyed? They scoured [many] lands but was there any escape?[10] Truly there is a reminder in this for anyone who has a heart, or who listens attentively with presence of mind. We created the heavens, the earth and everything between them in six days and no weariness whatsoever touched Us. So bear what they say with patience and glorify your Lord, all the while praising Him, before the rising of the sun and before it sets, and glorify Him during the night, so too after prostration. Listen out for the Day when the Crier shall call out from a nearby place: the Day they hear the Blast in reality; that is the Day of Emergence. It is We who give life and cause death and the final return will be to Us – the Day when the earth shall split open around them as they come rushing out, that is a rounding up easy for Us to accomplish. We know best what they say and you are not one to coerce them, so remind, with this Qur’an, whoever fears My threat.


Footnotes

[1] i.e. ‘You have come to them, telling them of the Resurrection yet they are amazed…’ or, ‘They did not repudiate you with anything worth consideration, yet they are amazed…’ – Abu Hayyan

[2] In response to the admonition of the warner that the Last Day is nigh – Baqa`i

[3] The people of Shu`ayb (AS)

[4] or: ‘You were unable to evade this.’ – Ibn Kathir

[5] The Recording Angel

[6] i.e. the driver and the witness, or the witness alone with the dual form being used as a tool for emphasis, the translation then being, “Hurl, hurl into Hell…” – Ibn Kathir, Baqa`i

[7] or: ‘Doubter’ – Qurtubi

[8] The devil appointed over him, inciting him to evil. He will say this when the person accuses his inseparable companion of misguiding him. – Ibn Kathir

[9] or, “those who fear the All-Merciful when alone, in private…” – Ibn Kathir

[10] There are two main interpretations to this verse i) They scoured the lands desperately seeking a means of escape and refuge but were unable to ii) They scoured the lands, taking everything of worth they could from them, trading and conquering, but at the end, there was no escape from Allah’s decree. – Qurtubi, ibn Kathir

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