68 - Al Qalam (The pen)

5 Tafsir(s) related to verse 68.1


Nūn, one of the letters of the alphabet: God knows best what He means by it. By the Pen, with which He has inscribed [the records of] all creatures in the Preserved Tablet, and what they inscribe, that is, the angels, of good and righteousness.


Nūn. By the Pen, and by what they inscribe!He said:"Al-Nūn" is one of the names of God, Exalted is He, for if the opening letters of the sūras, Alif Lām Rā, Ḥā Mīm and Nūn, are joined together they make up the name al-Raḥmān. Ibn ʿAbbās y said: "Al-Nūn is the ink-well (dawāt) from which the Reminder (dhikr) [the Qurʾān] was written, and the Pen is that with which the Wise Reminder was written."By what they inscribe " ⸢the Reminder which is written on the Preserved Tablet concerning the [divinely decreed] wretchedness (shaqāwa) or felicity (saʿāda) [of human beings].Ibn ʿAbbās has said in another report, "Nūn is the fish upon which rest the worlds (arḍūn),⸣ what they inscribe is the deeds of the children of Adam which the recording angels have written down." ʿUmar b. Wāṣil said:By what they inscribe means: By the writing (kitāba) [i.e. the scripture] which God has undertaken[to provide] for His servants, which contains benefits (manāfiʿ) for people, and things that are in the best interests (maṣāliḥ) of His servants and their lands.His words, Exalted is He:

Kashf Al-Asrar

Nūn. By the Pen and what they inscribe.

Nūn is one of the letters of the alphabet. The alphabet's letters are the roots of words, the connec- tors of phrases, and the separators of verses. All indicate generosity and bounty, some in brief and some in detail. They allude to gentleness, the good news of love, expiation of offenses, and the plundering of the hearts of the friends. They are the foundation of words and the adornment of speakers. Understanding them is the mark of those who conform. They are burdens on the neck of the enemies and thorns in the eyes of the innovators. It is the belief of the faithful that these letters are the speech of the Lord of the world. He is a Lord who has knowledge and power. His knowledge is without reflective thought and His power without tools. His kingship is without end, His solicitude without bribery, His bestowal without obligation. He is a Lord who is the artisan of the universe and the protector of creation, the keeper of enemies and the companion of friends. He is in everyone's eyes through artisanry and settled down in the hearts of His lovers, the hard cash of every hope and enough for every assurance. Though the servant be heavily burdened by offenses, He is clement and forbearing.

The Pir of the Tariqah said in his whispered prayers, "O God, no matter how sinful we are, You are forgiving. No matter how ugly our deeds, You are the concealer. O King, You have the treasure of bounty, without equal or help. It is worthy that You pass over our disloyal acts."

Nūn. By the Pen. Nūn is the inkwell, and the Pen is a pen of light. The writer is the Forgiving Lord. He wrote with the Pen in the emerald Tablet, He wrote with the ink of light, He wrote on the notebook of carnelian, He wrote the story and the deeds of the created things. He wrote the heart of the recognizer with the Pen of generosity, He wrote with the ink of bounty, He wrote on the notebook of gentleness, He wrote the attribute and description of the honorable: He wrote faith in their hearts [58:22]. He wrote in the Tablet, and He wrote it all for you.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

The great commentator Mujahid says that by pen here is meant the Pen with which the Qur'an was being written down. From this it automatically follows that that which was being written implies the Holy Qur'an itself.

That is for which an oath has been sworn by the Pen and by the Book. It means that this Qur'an which is being inscribed by the hands of the writers of Revelation, is by itself enough to refute the slander of the disbelievers who say that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) is, God forbid, a madman, Before his claim to the Prophethood, the people of Makkah looked upon him as the best of their men and trusted his honesty, intelligence and sagacity. But when he started reciting the Qur'an before them they began to call him a madman. This meant that the Qur'an itself in their sight was the cause because of which they accused him of madness; Therefore, it was said: "The Qur'an by itself is a sufficient proof for the refutation of this slander. The presentation of this highly eloquent Revelation which consists of sublime themes, is an argument which proves that Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings) has been especially favored by Allah, and nor an argument which might be used to prove that he has, God forbid, gone mad." Here, one should remember that although the address apparently is directed to the Holy Prophet, yet the real object is to nail the calumny of the disbelievers. Therefore, no one should have the doubt that this verse was sent down only to assure the Holy Prophet that he was not mad. Obviously, the Holy Prophet himself had no such doubt for removing which he might have stood in need of such an assurance. The object was to tell the disbelievers, as if to say: "The Qur'an because of which you-are calling the one presenting it a madman, is by itself an argument that your accusation is false." (For further explanation' see E.N. 22 of Surah At-Tur)

That is, "You will get an unlimited and continuous reward, for although you have to hear discouraging and disturbing things in response to the efforts that you are making for the instruction and guidance of the people, yet you are steadfastly performing your Mission of calling them to the Right Way."

Here, this sentence gives two meanings:

(1) "That you stand exalted to a high and noble character; that is why you are enduring all these hardships in your mission of guiding the people to the Right Way, otherwise a man of weak character could not have done so;" and

(2) "that besides the Qur'an, your high and noble character also is a clear proof that the accusation of madness that the disbelievers bring against you is absolutely false, for high morals and madness cannot co-exist in one and the same person. "

A madman is he whose balance of mind is upset, who has lost his temperamental equilibrium. Contrary to this, the high morals of a person testify that he is a right-minded and sound-natured person, who possesses perfect temperamental equilibrium. The people of Makkah were not unaware of the morals and character possessed by the Holy Messenger of Allah. Therefore, it was enough just to make a reference to them so that every reasonable man of Makkah was made to think how shameless were those people who were calling a man of such sublime morals and character a madman. Their absurd conduct was not at all harmful for the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) but for themselves, for maddened in their craze for opposition they were saying such a thing about him which could not be regarded as credible by any man of understanding. The same also is the case with those men of knowledge and scholarship, who in the modern time are accusing the Holy prophet (upon whom be peace) of having fits of madness and epilepsy. The Qur'an is available everywhere in the world and the Holy Prophet's life also exists in the written form in entire detail. Every person can see it for himself what a foolish and meaningless thing is being uttered in their blind enmity by those who regard the man who brought this unique and matchless Book and who possessed such sublime morals and character as a mentally deranged person.

The best description of the Holy Prophet's character has been given by Hadrat 'A'ishah in her statement: Kana khuluqu-hul-Qur an: the Qur'an was his character." Imam Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Da'ud. Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Darimi and Ibn Jarir have cited, with a little variation in wording, this saying with several chains of transmitters. This means that the Holy Prophet had not merely presented the teaching of the Qur'an before the world but also given its practical demonstration by his personal example. Whatever was enjoined in the Qur'an was acted upon practically by himself in the first instance; whatever was forbidden in it was shunned and avoided by himself most of all. His own self was characterized most of all by the moral qualities which were declared as sublime by it, and his own self was most free from those qualities which were declared as abhorrent and reprehensible by it. In another tradition Hadrat 'A'ishah has stated: "The Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) never hit a servant, never raised his hand on a woman never used his hand to kill a person outside the battlefield, never avenged himself on anyone for an injury caused unless someone violated a sanctity enjoined by Allah and he avenged it for the sake of Allah. His practice was that whenever he had to choose between two things, he would choose the easier one unless it was a sin; and if it was a sin he would keep away from it most of all" (Musnad Ahmad). Hadrat Anas says: "I served the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for ten years. He never did so much as express even a slight disgust over what I did or said: he never asked why I had done what I had done, and never inquired why I had not done what I had not done." (Bukhari, Muslim).

That is, "If you slackened a little in your propagation of Islam, they also would slacken in their opposition to you. Or, if you became inclined to effect some changes in your Faith to suit these people, they too would effect a compromise with you."

The word mahin is used for a contemptible, degraded and mean person. This is indeed a necessary quality of a person who swears many oaths. He swears an oath for every minor thing because he himself has the feeling that the people take him for a liar and would not believe him until he swore an oath. For this reason he is not only degraded in his own eyes but commands no respect in society either.

Khayr in Arabic is used both for wealth and for good. If it is taken in the meaning of wealth the, meaning would be that he is miserly and stingy; he would not even spend a farthing on anyone; and if khayr is taken in the meaning of goodness and virtue, it would mean that he creates a hindrance in every good work as well as that he is very active in hindering the people from accepting Islam.

The word `utul is used for a person who is stout and strong and greedy in eating and drinking and is also ill-mannered, quarrelsome and cruel at the same tune.

The word zanim is used to describe a person of illegitimate birth, who does not, in fact, belong to a family but has joined it. Sa`id bin Jubair and Sha`bi say that this word is used for a person who is notorious among the people for his evildoing.

The views of the commentators with regard to the person who has been described in these verses are different. Some one says it was Walid bin Mughirah; another one says it was Aswad bin `Abd-i Yaghuth, and still another has applied this description to Akhnas bin Shurayq, and some other people have pointed to some other persons. But the Qur'an has only described his attributes without naming him. This shows that in Makkah the man concerned was so notorious for his such qualities that there was no need to name him definitely. Hearing his description every person could understand who was being referred to.

This sentence may be connected with the preceding theme as well as with the following sentence. In the first case, it would mean: "Do not yield to the influence of such a person just because he has plenty of wealth and children." In the second: "He has become proud because he possesses abundance of wealth and children; so when Our Revelations are recited to him, he says, "These are tales of ancient times."

Because he thought he was a man of high prestige, his nose has been called a snout, and "branding him on the snout means disgracing him. That is, "We shall so disgrace him in the world and in the Hereafter that his mark of disgrace will become indelible."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Nun): '(Nun) He says: Allah swears by the Nun, which is the whale that carries the earths on its back while in Water, and beneath which is the Bull and under the Bull is the Rock and under the Rock is the Dust and none knows what is under the Dust save Allah. The name of the whale is Liwash, and it is said its name is Lutiaya'; the name of the bull is Bahamut, and some say its name is Talhut or Liyona. The whale is in a sea called 'Adwad, and it is like a small bull in a huge sea. The sea is in a hollowed rock whereby there is 4,000 cracks, and from each crack water springs out to the earth. It is also said that Nun is one of the names of the Lord; it stands for the letter Nun in Allah's name al-Rahman (the Beneficent); and it is also said that a Nun is an inkwell. (By the pen) Allah swore by the pen. This pen is made of light and its height is equal to the distance between Heaven and earth. It is with this pen that the Wise Remembrance, i.e. the Guarded Tablet, was written. It is also said that the pen is one of the angels by whom Allah has sworn, (and that which they write (therewith)) and Allah also swore by what the angels write down of the works of the children of Adam,