Reflections on Surah Qaf


Then Allah, Glorious is He, informs us that they are

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  “in a quandary about the new creation,”

[1] i.e. they are dubious about the fact that they will be resurrected again. To prove the resurrection and monotheism, He pointed them to one of the greatest signs of His ability, power and lordship: the creation of man. What evidence is clearer than the composition of this human body? Its limbs, its strength, its physical makeup of meat, bones, nerves, veins, tendons and orifices, its senses, desires and abilities – all of this from a single sperm! Were the servant to be true and just towards his Lord, thinking deeply about himself would be sufficient and he would see that the very fact of his existence is proof of all that the Messengers informed about Allah, His Names and His Attributes.[2]

Then He, Glorious is He, informs us of His all-encompassing knowledge. He knows what man’s own self whispers to him and is so close in His knowledge that He is closer to him that his own jugular vein. He is closer to him with respect to power over him and knowledge than that life vein. Our Shaykh said that His saying, “We”[3] refers to the Angels[4] just as He says,

  “so when We recite it, follow its recitation,”[5]

i.e. when our messenger, Jibr»l, recites it to you, follow its recitation; this is further proven by His saying,

  “with the two Receiving (Angels) recording”[6]

thereby restricting the aforementioned closeness to the recording of the two Angels. If the meaning of the verse was that Allah Himself is close, there would have been no need to immediately restrict the meaning by mentioning the two recording Angels, hence there is no evidence in the verse for the incarnationist or the nullifier.

Then He, Glorious is He, informed us that there are two Angels on our right and left recording our deeds and words. He told us that our words are being accounted and recorded, and thereby pointed us to the fact that our deeds too are recorded, deeds being less frequent than words and of greater impact, deeds being the conclusions of words.

Then He, Glorious is He, informed us of the Lesser Judgment, the throes of death and that they come revealing the truth which is none other than the meeting with Him and the reward or punishment that precedes the Greater Judgement.

Then He informed us of the Greater Judgement with his words,

  “the Trumpet will be blown, that is the Day of Threat!”[7]

He then proceeded to detail the state of creation on that day, that everyone will come before Allah, Glorious is He, being driven by a driver and accompanied by a witness to testify against him. This witness is other than the witness of the limbs, the witness of the earth, the witness of His Messenger and the witness of the believers. Know that Allah will bring forward the recording Angels, the Prophets, the places on which men performed their deeds and the very skins with which they disobeyed Him as witnesses against them. He will not judge them merely by what He knows,[8] rather based upon their own confessions and after the submission of clear evidence; indeed how else can a judge pass sentence?!

Then He informed us that man is oblivious of this reality, a reality that should never be ignored,

  “you were heedless of this,”[9]

using the word min rather than `an just as He says,

  “they are indeed in grave doubt about it,”[10]

again using the word min rather than fi; such a usage is permissible when employing the verbal noun rather than the verb itself and lends the meaning of man himself being the source of this heedlessness and doubt. Then He informed us that the veil of heedlessness and stupor would be removed from him that Day just like the veil of sleep lifting off the heart, awakening it, eyes opening. Therefore, this servant will see clearly on that Day in just the same way that the sleeping person becomes conscious upon awakening.

Then He, Glorious is He, informed us that man’s inseparable companion, the Angel who accompanied him in this world, would bring him into the divine presence and say, ‘Here is the person You entrusted me with in the worldly life, I have brought him to You.’ This is the opinion of Mujahid; ibn Qutaybah said that he will say, ‘Here, present with me are his sayings and acts that I recorded and accounted.’ The correct opinion is that the verse admits both opinions, i.e. he will say, ‘Here is the person You entrusted me with and here are his deeds that I have recorded.’ At this point it will be said,

  “You two, hurl into Hell every obdurate disbeliever,”[11]

this order [in the dual form] is either addressed to the driver and witness, or addressed to the Angel consigned to his punishment even if he be one; in this latter case the dual address is commonly used by the Arabs when addressing a single person. Another interpretation is that the alif [12] is actually put in place of the nùn of emphasis[13] after which the place of nexus[14] was made a place of halting.[15]

Then He mentions six characteristics of the person thrown in the Fire:

  1. He obdurately denies Allah’s favours and His rights, he denies His religion, monotheism, His Names and Attributes, His Messengers, His Angels, His Books and the meeting with Him.
  2. He obstinately denies the truth.
  3. He impedes all good. He prevents himself from doing acts of obedience and drawing close to Allah and does not show beneficence to others; this is the state of most of mankind.
  4. He is an aggressor, transgressing the rights of others in speech and deed.
  5. He is someone who does every does every doubtful action causing people to doubt and suspect him. It is said that someone is murib when he is one who causes doubts.
  6. He is someone who commits shirk with Allah, he has taken another god alongside Allah whom he worships, loves, for whose sake he is angered and pleased, in whose name he takes an oath, makes allegiance for its sake and bears enmity for its sake.

This person will then debate with his companion amongst the devils, laying the blame on it and accusing it of being the cause of his deviance and misguidance. The companion will reply that it had no ability to deviate or misguide him; rather he chose misguidance for himself and preferred it to the truth, just as Iblis will say to the denizens of the Fire,

  “I had no authority over you, except that I called you and you responded to me.”[16]

Therefore, according to this explanation, the companion here is his devil, and these two will argue amongst themselves before Allah. Other exegetes postulated that the companion here is the Angel; the person will claim that the Angel added things to his record and thereby oppressed him, that he is innocent of what is recorded in his book, or that the Angel hastily scribbled things down without giving him a chance to repent. The Angel will then say, ‘I have not added anything to his record and neither was I hasty,

  “he had already gone far astray himself.”[17]

’ The Lord, Most High, will then say,

  “Do not argue in My presence…”[18]

Allah, Glorious is He, has informed us of the dispute between the disbelievers and the devils in Surahs al-Saffat and al-A`raf. He informed us of man disputing before Him in Surah al-Zumar and informed us of the argumentation of the denizens of the Fire in Surahs al-Shu`ara’ and Sad.

Then He, Glorious is He, informed us that His word, once given, is not subject to change. It is said that this refers to His saying,

  “I will fill up Hell with jinn and man altogether,”[19]

and His promising the believers Paradise; this truth cannot be changed, nor will it be contravened. Ibn `Abbas said that the verse means, ‘My promise will not be broken, neither to the obedient nor the sinners,’ and Mujahid said that it means, ‘I have judged all that I had to judge’; these are the two most correct explanations of this verse.[20] Another explanation, preferred by Farra’ and ibn Qutaybah, says that it means, ‘Words are not changed in My presence, lies cannot be uttered and deception cannot work as it did previously with worldly kings and rulers.’ So the meaning of “word” here would be the words of the disputers. Farra’ said, ‘No lie will be said in My presence because I know the unseen,’[21] and ibn Qutaybah said, ‘Words will not be distorted in My presence, neither added to nor decreased, because I know the unseen.’[22] Ibn Qutaybah reasoned that this interpretation was the correct one because He said, “the word in My presence” and not ‘My word.’ So according to the first opinion,[23] His words,

  “and I am not one to wrong My servants”[24]

complete His words,

  “(My) Word, once given, cannot be changed”

i.e. ‘What I say and promise must occur and it is pure justice, admitting no possibility of wrongdoing.’ According to the second opinion, He has described Himself as having two qualities: perfect knowledge and seeing which prevents anything that is said in His presence from being distorted, and perfect justice and richness-beyond-need which prevents His wronging His servants.

  He then informed us of the vastness of Hell and that each time someone is hurled in it, it will ask, “Are there any more?” The opinion of those who said that this verse means, ‘I have no more room!’ is wrong, and the authentic ¯ad»th repudiates this position.[25]

Next, He mentions that Paradise will be brought close to those mindful of Allah. He highlights that the people of Paradise have four qualities:

  1. Penitence, i.e. someone who repeatedly turns back to Allah, leaving disobedience and coming to obedience, shunning heedlessness and turning to His remembrance. `Ubayd ibn `Umayr said, ‘The penitent person is someone who is aware of his sins and asks for forgiveness.’ Mujahid said, ‘He is someone who remembers his sin in private and asks for forgiveness.’ Sa`id ibn al-Musayyab said, ‘He is someone who sins and then repents, sins again and repents again.’

  2. His upkeeps (his covenant). Ibn `Abbas said, ‘He upkeeps what Allah has entrusted him with and commanded him to.’ Mujahid said, ‘He preserves the rights of Allah and His blessings that have been deposited with him.’ The soul has the ability to seek after something and to hold back. The penitent person uses the first ability to turn back to Allah, obey Him and seek His good pleasure. Someone who upkeeps (the covenant) employs the second ability to refrain from sin and encroaching on the proscribed. Therefore, the hafiz is someone who restrains his soul from the prohibited, and the awwab is someone who turns to Allah by obeying Him.

  3. “Those who fear the All-Merciful, though He is unseen,” subsumes acceptance of His existence, lordship, power, knowledge and awareness of every minute detail concerning His servants. It also subsumes belief in His Books, Messengers, command and prohibition, promise and threat, and meeting Him. Fearing the All-Merciful, though He is unseen can only come about after all of this.

  4. “And comes with a penitent heart,” ibn `Abbas said, ‘He turns away from disobeying Allah and returns to obeying Him.’ The reality of penitence can be expressed as the heart devoting itself to obeying Allah, loving Him and turning to Him.

Then He mentioned the reward of those who bear these qualities, “Enter it in peace. This is the Day of Eternity.’ They will have all that they wish there and We have more besides.”

He then frightens man by stating that they could meet the same fate met by nations of the past, mightier and more powerful than them but still unable to avert their destruction. They scoured the lands, searching high and low for a way to escape Allah’s punishment but failed to do so. Qatadah said, ‘Allah’s enemies tried to escape His punishment, but met with it anyway.’ Zajjaj said, ‘They travelled everywhere, undertaking a minute examination but were unable to escape death.’[26] They sought to escape death but were unable to. Then He, Glorious is He, tells us,

  “Truly there is a reminder in this for anyone who has a heart, or who listens attentively with presence of mind.”

He tells us that He created the heavens and the earth and everything between then in six days and no weariness or fatigue touched Him thereby belying the claims of His enemies, the Jews, who said that He rested on the seventh day!

Allah then orders His Prophet to look to Him for comfort and to bear what his enemies say with patience; alluding to the fact that just as Allah is patient at the Jews’ blasphemy, so too should he be patient. There is none who surpasses Allah in showing patience at hearing blasphemy.[27]

Then Allah commands him to do something that will help him to be patient: glorifying Allah before the rising of the sun and before it sets, during the night and after prostration. It is said that this refers to the witr prayer as stated by ibn `Abbas in one narration, or the two units after the Maghrib prayer as stated by `Umar, `Ali, Abu Hurayrah, al-Hasan ibn `Ali, and ibn `Abbas in a second narration. There is also a third narration from ibn `Abbas in which he said that it was to glorify Allah after the obligatory prayers.[28]

The chapter closes by mentioned the Resurrection and the Crier calling out, summoning the souls to return to their bodies in preparation for the final gathering. He told us that this call will come from a place close by and will be heard by all,

  “the Day they hear the Blast in reality,”

heralding the resurrection and the meeting with Allah,

  “the Day when the earth shall split open around them”

just like it does for plants as they sprout

  “as they come rushing out,”

without any delay. That is a rounding up that is easy for Allah.

He then mentions that He knows full well what His enemies say thereby implying that He will requite them for their words. He mentions His knowledge and power to drive home the reality of the recompense. Finally, He tells the Prophet ﷺ that he is not a tyrant or one to compel them. He was not sent to force them into accepting Islam, instead he is commanded to remind, using His words, whoever fears His threat because it is only such a person who will benefit, not someone who does not believe in meeting Him, and does not fear His threat or look forward to His reward.


[1] Qaf (50): 15

[2] As Allah says, “…and in yourselves as well, do you not see?” [al-Dhariyat (51): 21]

[3] In His saying, “We are nearer to him than his jugular vein” [Qaf (50): 16]

[4] Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu` al-Fatawa, vol. 5, pp. 234-235

[5] al-Qiyamah (75): 18

[6] Qaf (50): 17

[7] Qaf (50): 20

[8] Bukhari #2458 and Muslim #1713 from Umm Salamah

[9] Qaf (50): 22

[10] Hud (11): 110

[11] Qaf (50): 24

[12] i.e. at the end of the word alqiya

[13] nun al-tawkid, in which case a tanwin is placed on the alif.

[14] al-wasl

[15] al-waqf, and thereby effectively removing the tanwin

[16] Ibrahim (14): 22

[17] Qaf (50): 27

[18] Qaf (50): 28

[19] Hud (11): 119

[20] cf. Tabari and ibn Kathir to this verse.

[21] Farra’, Ma`ani al-Qur’an, vol. 3, pg. 79

[22] Ibn Qutaybah, Ta’wil Mushkil al-Qur’an, pg. 423

[23] The opinion of ibn `Abbas and Mujahid.

[24] Qaf (50): 29

[25] Bukhari #4848 and Muslim #2848 from Anas that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Hellfire will keep saying, ‘Are there any more?’ until the Lord of Might, Blessed and Exalted, will place His foot in it and it will cry out, ‘Enough! Enough!’”

[26] Zajjaj, Ma`ani al-Qur’an, vol. 5, pg. 48

[27] Bukhari #6099 and Muslim #2804 from Abu Musa al-Ash`ari.

[28] cf. Tabari, ibn Kathir

(NOTE: If you want to build a strong and powerful relationship with Allah, check out Islamia TV, where you can watch Islamic speakers from across the globe deliver inspiring and motivational courses. Learn more at


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