Al-Mulk is the 67th surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 30 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.
THE FUNDAMENTAL idea running through the whole of this surah is man’s inability ever to encompass the mysteries of the universe with his earthbound knowledge, and, hence, his utter dependence on guidance through divine revelation. Best known by the key-word al-mulk (“dominion”) taken from its first verse, the surah has sometimes been designated by the Companions as “The Preserving One” (Al-Waqiyah) or “The Saving One” (Al-Munjiyah) inasmuch as it is apt to save and preserve him who takes its lesson to heart from suffering in the life to come (Zamakhshari).
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 1
تَبَارَكَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ الْمُلْكُ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Tabaarakal lazee biyadihil mulku wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shai-in qadeer
1. HALLOWED be He in whose hand all dominion rests, since He has the power to will anything:
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 2
الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا ۚ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ
Allazee khalaqal mawta walhayaata liyabluwakum ayyukum ahsanu ‘amalaa; wa huwal ‘azeezul ghafoor
2. He who has created death as well as life,1 so that He might put you to a test [and thus show] which of you is best in conduct, and [make you realize that] He alone is almighty, truly forgiving.
1 Since what is termed “death” is stated here to have been created, it cannot be identical with “non-existence”, but obviously must have a positive reality of its own. To my mind, it connotes, firstly, the inanimate state of existence preceding the emergence of life in plants or animated beings; and, secondly, the state of transition from life as we know it in this world to the—as yet to us unimaginable—condition off existence referred to in the Qur’an as “the hereafter” or “the life to come” (al-akhirah).
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 3
الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ طِبَاقًا ۖ مَا تَرَىٰ فِي خَلْقِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ مِنْ تَفَاوُتٍ ۖ فَارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ هَلْ تَرَىٰ مِنْ فُطُورٍ
Allazee khalaqa sab’a samaawaatin tibaaqam maa taraa fee khalqir rahmaani min tafaawut farji’il basara hal taraa min futoor
3. [Hallowed be] He who has created seven heavens in full harmony with one another:2 no fault will thou see in the creation of the Most Gracious. And turn thy vision [upon it] once more: canst thou see any flaw?
2 Or: “conforming [with one another]”, this being the primary significance of tibaq (sing. tabaq). For the meaning of the “seven heavens”, see Surah Al-Baqarah , note 20.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 4
ثُمَّ ارْجِعِ الْبَصَرَ كَرَّتَيْنِ يَنْقَلِبْ إِلَيْكَ الْبَصَرُ خَاسِئًا وَهُوَ حَسِيرٌ
Summar ji’il basara karrataini yanqalib ilaikal basaru khaasi’anw wa huwa haseer
4. Yea, turn thy vision [upon it] again and yet again: [and every time] thy vision will fall back upon thee, dazzled and truly defeated.3
3 Sc., in its endeavour to encompass the mysteries of the universe.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 5
وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِلشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ
Wa laqad zaiyannas samaaa’ad dunyaa bimasaa beeha wa ja’alnaahaa rujoomal lish shayaateeni wa a’tadnaa lahum ‘azaabas sa’eer
5. And, indeed, We have adorned the skies nearest to the earth with lights,4 and have made them the object of futile guesses for the evil ones [from among men]:5 and for them have We readied suffering through a blazing flame—
4 Lit., “lamps”—i.e., stars: cf. Surah As-Saffat : 6, “We have adorned the skies nearest to the earth with the beauty of stars”.
5 For the wider meaning of shayatin—a term which in this context points specifically to “the satans from
among mankind, that is, the astrologers” (Baydawi)—see Surah Al-Hijr , note 16. As regards the term rajm (pl. rujum), which literally denotes the “throwing [of something] like a stone”—i.e., at random—it is often used metaphorically in the sense of “speaking conjecturally” or “making [something] the object of guesswork” (Jawhari, Raghib—the latter connecting this metaphor explicitly with the above verse—Lisan al-‘Arab, Qamus, Taj al-‘Arus, etc.). Cf. also Surah As-Saffat : 6-10.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 6
وَلِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ عَذَابُ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ
Wa lillazeena kafaroo bi rabbihim ‘azaabu jahannama wa bi’sal maseer
6. for, suffering in hell awaits all who are [thus] bent on blaspheming against their Sustainer:6 and how vile a journey’s end!
6 I.e., by presuming to know what will happen in the future—a knowledge which rests with God alone. This connects with the statement in verse 4 that man can never truly unravel the mysteries of cosmic space (“the heavens”), which in its turn implies that he should not presume to foretell terrestrial events from the position and the aspects of the stars. Since only God knows “that which is beyond the reach of a created being’s perception” (al-ghayb), any such attempt is a blasphemy (kufr).
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 7
إِذَا أُلْقُوا فِيهَا سَمِعُوا لَهَا شَهِيقًا وَهِيَ تَفُورُ
Izaaa ulqoo feehaa sami’oo lahaa shaheeqanw wa hiya tafoor
7. When they are cast into that [hell], they will hear its breath indrawing as it boils up,
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 8
تَكَادُ تَمَيَّزُ مِنَ الْغَيْظِ ۖ كُلَّمَا أُلْقِيَ فِيهَا فَوْجٌ سَأَلَهُمْ خَزَنَتُهَا أَلَمْ يَأْتِكُمْ نَذِيرٌ
Takaadu tamayyazu minal ghaizz kullamaaa ulqiya feehaa fawjun sa alahum khazanatuhaaa alam ya’tikum nazeer
8. well-nigh bursting with fury; [and] every time a host [of such sinners] is flung into it, its keepers will ask them, “Has no warner ever come to you?”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 9
قَالُوا بَلَىٰ قَدْ جَاءَنَا نَذِيرٌ فَكَذَّبْنَا وَقُلْنَا مَا نَزَّلَ اللَّهُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِنْ أَنْتُمْ إِلَّا فِي ضَلَالٍ كَبِيرٍ
Qaaloo balaa qad jaaa’anaa nazeerun fakazzabnaa wa qulnaa maa nazzalal laahu min shai in in antum illaa fee dalaalin kabeer
9. They will reply: “Yea, a warner did indeed come unto us, but we gave him the lie and said, ‘Never has God sent down anything [by way of revelation]! You [self-styled warners] are but lost in a great delusion!”7
7 Lit., “You are in nothing but a great error (dalal)”—thus denying the reality of divine revelation as such.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 10
وَقَالُوا لَوْ كُنَّا نَسْمَعُ أَوْ نَعْقِلُ مَا كُنَّا فِي أَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ
Wa qaaloo law kunnaa nasma’u awna’qilu maa kunnaa feee as haabis sa’eer
10. And they will add: “Had we but listened [to those warnings], or [at least] used our own reason, we would not [now] be among those who are destined for the blazing flame!”8
8 Reason, properly used, must lead man to a cognition of God’s existence and, thus, of the fact that a definite plan underlies all His creation. A logical concomitant of that cognition is the realization that certain aspects of the divine plan touching upon human life—in particular, the distinction between right and wrong—are being continuously disclosed to man through the medium of the revelation which God bestows on His chosen message-bearers, the prophets. This innate “bond with God” (referred to in Baqarah : 27 and explained in the corresponding note 19) may be broken only at the expense of man’s spiritual future, with suffering in the life to come as the inevitable alternative.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 11
فَاعْتَرَفُوا بِذَنْبِهِمْ فَسُحْقًا لِأَصْحَابِ السَّعِيرِ
Fa’tarafoo bizambihim fasuhqal li as haabis sa’eer
11. Thus will they come to realize their sins: but [by that time,] remote will have become all good from those who are destined for the blazing flame.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 12
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
Innal lazeena yakhshawna rabbahum bilghaibi lahum maghfiratunw wa ajrun kabeer
12. [As against this,] behold, for those who stand in awe of God although He is beyond the reach of their perception,9 there is forgiveness in store and a great reward.
9 For this rendering of the expression bi’l-ghayb, see Surah Al-Baqarah , note 3.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 13
وَأَسِرُّوا قَوْلَكُمْ أَوِ اجْهَرُوا بِهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ
Wa asirroo qawlakum awijharoo bih; innahoo ‘aleemum bizaatis sudoor
13. AND [know, O men, that] whether you keep your beliefs10 secret or state them openly, He has full knowledge indeed of all that is in [your] hearts.11
10 While the primary significance of the noun qawl is “a saying” or “an utterance”, it is often used tropically in the sense of “a statement”‘. i.e., of a belief, an opinion, a teaching, a doctrine, etc. In the present context it evidently relates to man’s beliefs in general, be they affirmative or negative: hence the plural form in my rendering of this term.
11 I.e., He knows why one person believes in Him and another rejects this belief; hence, He takes man’s innermost motivations, abilities and inabilities fully into account.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 14
أَلَا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ
Alaa ya’lamu man khalaqa wa huwal lateeful khabeer
14. How could it be that He who has created [all] should not know [all]?12 Yea, He alone is unfathomable [in His wisdom], aware!13
12 Lit., “Does He not know, [He] who has created?”
13 See Surah Al-An’am , note 89.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 15
هُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ ذَلُولًا فَامْشُوا فِي مَنَاكِبِهَا وَكُلُوا مِنْ رِزْقِهِ ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ
Huwal lazee ja’ala lakumul arda zaloolan famshoo fee manaakibihaa wa kuloo mir rizqih; wa ilaihin nushoor
15. He it is who has made the earth easy to live upon:14 go about, then, in all its regions, and partake the sustenance which He provides: but [always bear in mind that] unto Him you shall be resurrected.
14 Lit., “who has made the earth submissive (dhalulan) to you”: i.e., yielding to the intelligence with which He has endowed man.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 16
أَأَمِنْتُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ أَنْ يَخْسِفَ بِكُمُ الْأَرْضَ فَإِذَا هِيَ تَمُورُ
‘A-amintum man fissamaaa’i aiyakhsifa bi kumul arda fa izaa hiya tamoor
16. Can you ever feel secure that He who is in heaven15 will not cause the earth to swallow you up when, lo and behold, it begins to quake?
15 This expression is, of course, purely metaphorical since God is limitless in space as well as in time. Its use here is apparently meant to stress the unfathomable quality of His existence and power, which penetrates, and reveals itself in, every aspect of His cosmic creativeness, symbolized in the term “heaven”.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 17
أَمْ أَمِنْتُمْ مَنْ فِي السَّمَاءِ أَنْ يُرْسِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ حَاصِبًا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ كَيْفَ نَذِيرِ
Am amintum man fissamaaa’i ai yursila ‘alaikum haasiban fasata’lamoona kaifa nazeer
17. Or can you ever feel secure that He who is in heaven will not let loose against you a deadly stormwind,16 whereupon you would come to know how [true] My warning was?
16 Lit., “a stormwind that raises stones”.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 18
وَلَقَدْ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ فَكَيْفَ كَانَ نَكِيرِ
Wa laqad kazzabal lazeena min qablihim fakaifa kaana nakeer
18. And, indeed, [many of] those who lived aforetime17 did give the lie [to My warnings]: and how awesome was My rejection [of them]!
17 Lit., “before them” (min qablihim). This personal pronoun relates—as does the whole of the passage beginning with verse 13—to people of all times, who are herewith reminded of what happened to deniers of the truth in earlier times; hence my rendering of min qablihim as “aforetime”.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 19
أَوَلَمْ يَرَوْا إِلَى الطَّيْرِ فَوْقَهُمْ صَافَّاتٍ وَيَقْبِضْنَ ۚ مَا يُمْسِكُهُنَّ إِلَّا الرَّحْمَٰنُ ۚ إِنَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ بَصِيرٌ
Awalam yaraw ilat tairi fawqahum saaaffaatinw wa yaqbidn; maa yumsikuhunna il’lar rahmaan; innahoo bikulli shai in baseer
19. Have they, then, never beheld the birds above them, spreading their wings and drawing them in? None but the Most Gracious upholds them: for, verily, He keeps all things in His sight.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 20
أَمَّنْ هَٰذَا الَّذِي هُوَ جُنْدٌ لَكُمْ يَنْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ ۚ إِنِ الْكَافِرُونَ إِلَّا فِي غُرُورٍ
Amman haazal lazee huwa jundul lakum yansurukum min doonir rahmaan; inilkaafiroona illaa fee ghuroor
20. [And] is there any, besides the Most Gracious, that could be a shield18 for you, and could succour you [against danger]? They who deny this truth are but lost in self-delusion!
18 Lit., “an army”.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 21
أَمَّنْ هَٰذَا الَّذِي يَرْزُقُكُمْ إِنْ أَمْسَكَ رِزْقَهُ ۚ بَلْ لَجُّوا فِي عُتُوٍّ وَنُفُورٍ
Amman haazal lazee yarzuqukum in amsaka rizqah; bal lajjoo fee ‘utuwwinw wa nufoor
21. Or is there any that could provide you with sustenance if He should withhold His provision [from you]? Nay, but they [who are bent on denying the truth] stubbornly persist in their disdain [of God’s messages] and in their headlong flight [from Him]!
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 22
أَفَمَنْ يَمْشِي مُكِبًّا عَلَىٰ وَجْهِهِ أَهْدَىٰ أَمَّنْ يَمْشِي سَوِيًّا عَلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
Afamai yamshee mukibban ‘alaa wajhihee ahdaaa ammany yamshee sawiyyan ‘alaa siratim mustaqeem
22. But then, is he that goes along with his face close to the ground19 better guided than he that walks upright on a straight way?
19 Lit., “prone upon his face”—i.e., seeing only what is immediately beneath his feet, and utterly unaware of the direction into which his path is taking him: a metaphor of the spiritual obtuseness which prevents a person from caring for anything beyond his immediate, worldly concerns, and thus makes him resemble an earthworm that “goes along prone upon its face”.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 23
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي أَنْشَأَكُمْ وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ ۖ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ
Qul huwal lazee ansha akum wa ja’ala lakumus sam’a wal absaara wal af’idata qaleelam maa tashkuroon
23. SAY: “[God is] He who has brought you [all] into being, and has endowed you with hearing, and sight, and hearts:20 [yet] how seldom are you grateful!”
20 I.e., with the faculty of feeling as well as of rational thinking.
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 24
قُلْ هُوَ الَّذِي ذَرَأَكُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَإِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ
Qul huwal lazee zara akum fil ardi wa ilaihi tuhsharoon
24. Say: “It is He who has multiplied you on earth; and it is unto Him that you shall be gathered [on resurrection].”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 25
وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هَٰذَا الْوَعْدُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
Wa yaqooloona mataa haazal wa’du in kuntum saadiqeen
25. But they [only] ask, “When is this promise to be fulfilled? [Answer this, O you who believe in it,] if you are men of truth!”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 26
قُلْ إِنَّمَا الْعِلْمُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّمَا أَنَا نَذِيرٌ مُبِينٌ
Qul innamal ‘ilmu ‘indallaahi wa innamaaa ana nazeerum mubeen
26. Say thou, [O Prophet:] “Knowledge thereof rests with God alone; and I am only a plain warner.”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 27
فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهُ زُلْفَةً سِيئَتْ وُجُوهُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَقِيلَ هَٰذَا الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ بِهِ تَدَّعُونَ
Falaammaa ra-awhu zulfatan seee’at wujoohul lazeena kafaroo wa qeela haazal lazee kuntum bihee tadda’oon
27. Yet in the end, when they shall see that [fulfilment] close at hand, the faces of those who were bent on denying the truth will be stricken with grief; and they will be told, “This it is that you were [so derisively] calling for!”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 28
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَهْلَكَنِيَ اللَّهُ وَمَنْ مَعِيَ أَوْ رَحِمَنَا فَمَنْ يُجِيرُ الْكَافِرِينَ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
Qul ara’aytum in ahlaka niyal laahu wa mam ma’iya aw rahimanaa famai-yujeerul kaafireena min ‘azaabin aleem
28. SAY [O Prophet]: “What do you think? Whether God destroys me and those who follow me, or graces us with His mercy21—is there anyone that could protect [you] deniers of the truth from grievous suffering [in the life to come]?”
21 I.e., “Whether we succeed in spreading God’s message or not, what have you unbelievers to gain?”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 29
قُلْ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ آمَنَّا بِهِ وَعَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْنَا ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ هُوَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
Qul huwar rahmaanu aamannaa bihee wa ‘alaihi tawakkalnaa fasata’lamoona man huwa fee dalaalim mubeen
29. Say: “He is the Most Gracious: we have attained to faith in Him, and in Him have we placed our trust; and in time you will come to know which of us was lost in manifest error.”
Surah Al-Mulk Ayat 30
قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَصْبَحَ مَاؤُكُمْ غَوْرًا فَمَنْ يَأْتِيكُمْ بِمَاءٍ مَعِينٍ
Qul ara’aytum in asbaha maaa’ukum ghawran famai ya’teekum bimaaa’im ma’een
30. Say [unto those who deny the truth]: “What do you think? If of a sudden all your water were to vanish underground, who [but God] could provide you with water from [new] unsullied springs?”22
22 Apart from a further reminder of God’s providential power (thus continuing the argument touched upon in verses 19-21), the above verse has a parabolic significance as well. Just as water is an indispensable element of all organic life, so is a constant flow of moral consciousness an indispensable prerequisite of all spiritual life and stability: and who but God could enable man to regain that consciousness after all the older ethical stimuli have dried up and “vanished underground”?
Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss)