Exposition of the Holy Quran – 68 Al-Qalam (G A Parwez)

Surah 68: Al-Qalam
(The Pen)

(1-3) O Rasool! These opponents say that you are not in your senses. Ask them about the (power of) pen and ink(1); and what is written with them (the treasure of knowledge). Do insane people present the kind of guidance you are presenting them through this book?
You have been bestowed with the highest award (of nabuwwa and dominion) by Allah’s grace. Therefore, the rewards for your efforts will never end.
(4) If ever they use their intellect and think sensibly, they will clearly realize that a well balanced person, whose exalted and sublime conduct makes him an embodiment of virtue, can never be an insane person. (What kind of society would it be if knowledge and the sword are accompanied by exemplary conduct?)
(5-6) This is the conceptual evidence; but for practical evidence you have to wait for a while. The results manifested by the system established by you will testify as to who amongst you is bereft of reason.
(7) Your Rabb certainly knows who is on the right path and who has gone astray. (Let both of them walk all day. At the end of the day when their journey finishes, it will be clear who has reached his destination, and who was lost along the way.)
(8-9) These people have now adopted such tactics so that you may become exasperated with their accusations and agree to compromise with them. (In other words) They want you to budge from your position. Then they will become soft and reach some compromise. However, you should never

agree with them, because the truth is unchangeable. (Even if it shifts a little, truth becomes false. On the contrary, falsehood loses nothing, no matter what position it takes. If it is false, it will stay false. There is only one correct answer; and false answers can be in hundreds – 10:15, 11:113, 17:74.)
(10) (O Rasool!) The representative of the opposing party (who has come to you with an offer of conciliation) is a despicable and mean liar with a low mentality. In order to show that he is telling the truth, he swears a lot.
(11) By his slandering and defaming tales he wants to create factions and doubts amongst your people. His point of view is so deformed that he does not see any good anywhere. Everything he sees is bad and defective. He always mixes truth with falsehood and wherever he goes he spreads rumours and creates disorder.
(12) He himself does not do anything good; and he hinders others from doing so. He is in the forefront amongst those who transgress the righteous course of life; and he is lacking in good and constructive deeds.
(13) He is cruel, crude, quarrelsome and greedily swallows everything belonging to others. As he totally lacks the fine and pleasant things of life, he is mean and low.
(14) In spite of his low character, he has become the leader of people simply because of his wealth and large tribe.
(15) He is so intoxicated with wealth and power that when the divine laws are conveyed to him, he contemptuously says with hatred and arrogance that these are merely fables of ancient times.
(16) You will soon see how his false pride is destroyed; and how he is publicly humiliated.
(17) We will give them the kind of lesson We had given the people who owned a certain garden(2). They had a big garden laden with fruit and vowed that they would be harvesting its fruit in the morning.
(18) And they had no intention of giving any portion of it for the needy and poor.
(19) So what happened? While they were still sleeping, an unexpected and sudden calamity (a locust swarm) occurred and swallowed their entire crop;
(20) And left behind a barren field, instead of a lush green and blooming garden.
(21-22) At day break they called to each other and said, “Let us proceed early in the morning, collect the fruit and be free.”
(23-24) So they left their houses and while walking whispered to each other “Be careful that no needy person comes near by.”
(25) Thus they came close to the garden and made arrangements to stop any needy person from reaching there.
(26) When they reached there, they said (after seeing the garden and the fields) “Have we lost our way?” (These gardens and fields do not appear to be ours.)
(27) (When they were sure that the fields were actually theirs) They cried out, “We have surely been rendered destitute. We have lost everything.”
(28) One of them who had always remained moderate said, “Did I not caution you to keep your struggle in conformity with the divine laws?” (You did not listen to me and now you have seen the result.)
(29) They said, “There is no doubt that we had ignored the rights of the poor and the needy. This amounts to zulm. Zulm always brings about such an end. (On the other hand Allah Almighty is far above destroying people’s labour without any reason.)
(30-31) Then they started blaming each other saying, “Oh, it was you who persuaded

the others to adopt this attitude; and we became transgressors and rebelled against the divine laws.
(32) Now we turn again towards the divine laws and hope that He may give us better sustenance in exchange.”
(33) O Rasool! You should tell these opponents that whoever rebels against the divine laws will face similar destruction in this world; and the chastisement in the hereafter would be more severe. If only they would understand this!
(34) On the contrary, people who are conscious of the divine law of Rabubiyya (and give priority to the rights of the poor and needy) will be bestowed with a blissful life in which every kind of comfort will be available.
(35) This is because We cannot treat people who obey Our laws, in the same way as those who rebel against them. (When their paths are leading them in different directions, how can their destination be the same?)
(36) (They believe that they can do whatever they like, as there would be no one to question them.) Ask them, “What has happened to you that you are taking such decisions?”
(37-38) Do you have a divine writ which says that no matter what course you adopt, the results would be to your liking?
(39) Or have you taken a promise from Allah that no matter what you decide, you are bound to gain? Heads or tails, you will always win! And that Allah will hold the promise good till the Day of Judgment; and that you can do whatever you like, for you will gain in every case?
(40) Ask them, “Who amongst you can dare say with absolute confidence that he has taken such a promise from Allah, which He is bound to honour?”
(41) Furthermore, do they have any other partners? Then let them to produce their partners to testify their claim.
(42) (All these are their self-made stories. The Almighty’s Law of Mukafat is unalterable and according to it, whatever is sown will be reaped. Therefore) That day on which the destructive results of their erroneous deeds will come before them, is approaching. It will be a titanic clash and they will be faced with severe calamities on all sides. At that time some of them shall consider bowing before the divine laws, but by then the time of respite will be over. It would no longer be possible for them to do so and avert destruction.
(43) At that time, their gazes would be lowered in disgrace and their faces covered by the darkness of ignominy. Earlier, during the period of respite, they were asked to submit to the divine laws. Then it was still within their discretion to save themselves from destruction, but they did not care. How can they escape now?
(44) (So, O Rasool! Remain busy in completing your programme). As far as these people who belie Our Law of Mukafat are concerned, hand them over to Us. Step by step We shall lead them to destruction. And we will do this in a way that they will not know from which side the destruction came.
(45) We are giving them respite and Our plan is very firm and strong. They cannot escape from it.
(46) Just think; are you asking the people, who are running away from you like this, for any compensation? Compensation which they consider to be an unbearable burden on them (52:40)?
(47) Or have they come to know from some hidden source (that whatever you say will not take place); and accordingly have jotted this down in writing, to preserve it with them (and are therefore so bold about it)?
(48) You should not bother about them; and be steadfast in the fulfillment of the programme suggested by your Rabb. Do not be in haste like Jonah (of the fish. He got fed up with the opposition of his nation and left them before the appointed time – 21:87, 37:139.) He got into trouble and then cried out to Us in sheer agony and grief.
(49) Had he not received means of nourishment and relief from his Rabb, he would have been cast alone in a miserable condition, on a barren plain near the seashore. He could have never escaped from there (37:146).
(50) (But this was a passing misfortune which befell him due to miscalculation. Otherwise) He was one of Our righteous and noble subjects and remains as such in Our sight. (Therefore, O Rasool, do not be in haste. Remain firm and steadfast in your programme and take every step accordingly. Thus you will remain safe from every danger.)
(51) The main reaction of these kuffar, whenever they hear the Qur’an, is to (sometimes) call you insane (and sometimes an illusionist or a poet); and to stare at you so that you may get exasperated and leave your position.
(52) (But do not worry. If these people refuse to adopt this code, for they may not. This code of life has not been revealed for them alone.) This is a code of life for the whole of mankind.
(If they do not adopt it, some other nation will. Whoever adopts it will attain success, dignity and honour. The respect of human beings is only attached to this code of life. Any nation that wants to can adopt it.)


(1) Noon also means sword. Noon wa al-qalam thus means the sword and the Qur’an, i.e. divine law and the power to implement it. The Islamic system of government is based on both of these. The divine law oversees the government so that it may not abuse its authority while the power makes sure that divine values are not reduced to just sermons.

(2) Such an example has also been given in (18:32-44).

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