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Quran Chapter 68 - The Pen - Do Not Yield to the Evil Doers, Let God Deal with Disbelievers

An early Meccan sura that deals with the accusation that Muhammad was not God’s Messenger but merely mad (verses 2–6). The arrogance of those who assume that, because they have some of the good things in this life, they can reject the Revelation, is rebutted (verses 10–16). Examples are given of those who came to regret their arrogance (verses 17–33). The Prophet is urged to remain steadfast (verses 48–52).

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

Do Not Yield to the Evil Doers

1 Nun

By the pen! By all they write! [a] 2 Your Lord’s grace [b] does not make you [Prophet] a madman: 3 you will have a never-ending reward–– 4 truly you have a strong character–– 5 and soon you will see, as will they, 6 which of you is afflicted with madness. 7 Your Lord knows best who strays from His path and who is rightly guided. 8 So do not yield to those who deny the truth–– 9 they want you to compromise with them and then they will compromise with you–– 10 do not yield to any contemptible swearer, 11 to any backbiter, slander-monger, 12 or hinderer of good, to anyone who is sinful, aggressive, 13 coarse, and on top of all that, an imposter. [c] 14 Just because he has wealth and sons, 15 when our revelations are recited to him, he says, ‘These are just ancient fables.’ 16 We shall brand him on the snout!

17 We have tried them as We tried the owners of a certain garden, who swore that they would harvest its fruits in the morning 18 and made no allowance [for the Will of God]: [d] 19 a disaster from your Lord struck the garden as they slept 20 and by morning it was stripped bare, a desolate land. 21 Still they called each other at daybreak, 22 ‘Go early to your field if you wish to gather all its fruits,’ 23 and went off, whispering, 24 ‘Make sure no poor person enters the garden today!’–– 25 they left early, bent on their purpose– 26 but when they saw the garden, they said, ‘We must have lost our way! 27 No– we are ruined!’ 28 The wisest of them said, ‘Did I not say to you, “Will you not glorify God?”’– 29 they said, ‘Glory be to God, Our Lord! Truly, we were doing wrong!’– 30 and then they turned to each other in mutual reproach. 31 They said, ‘Alas for us! We have done terrible wrong, 32 but maybe our Lord will give us something better in its place: we truly turn to Him in hope.’ 33 Such is the punishment [in this life], but greater still is the punishment in the Hereafter, if only they knew.

34 There will be Gardens of bliss for those who are mindful of God. 35 Should We treat those who submit to Us as We treat those who do evil? 36 What is the matter with you? On what basis do you judge? 37 Do you have a Scripture that tells you 38 that you will be granted whatever you choose? 39 Have you received from Us solemn oaths, binding to the Day of Resurrection, that you will get whatever you yourselves decide? 40 Ask them [Prophet] which of them will guarantee this. 41 Do they have ‘partners’ [besides God]? Let them produce their ‘partners’, if what they say is true. 42 On the Day when matters become dire, [e] they will be invited to prostrate themselves but will be prevented [f] from doing so, 43 and their eyes will be downcast and they will be overwhelmed with shame: they were invited to prostrate themselves when they were safe [but refused].

Let God Deal with Disbelievers

44 So [Prophet] leave those who reject this revelation to Me: We shall lead them on, step by step, in ways beyond their knowledge; 45 I will allow them more time, for My plan is powerful. 46 Do you demand some reward from them that would burden them with debt? 47 Do they have knowledge of the unseen that enables them to write it down? 48 Wait patiently [Prophet] for your Lord’s judgement: do not be like the man in the whale who called out in distress: 49 if his Lord’s grace had not reached him, he would have been left, abandoned and blameworthy, on the barren shore, 50 but his Lord chose him and made him one of the Righteous. 51 The disbelievers almost strike you down with their looks when they hear the Quran. They say, ‘He must be mad!’ 52 but truly it is nothing other than a Reminder for all peoples.


a. This could refer to the angels and what they write down of people’s deeds or to the generic pen and what people write, thus swearing by the ability to write with which God endowed human beings. Cf. 96: 4–5.

b. Receiving God’s revelation. See esp. 15: 6 for the accusation of madness, which occurs countless times with reference to various prophets in the Quran. Another interpretation is ‘by God’s grace . . .’.

c. This is said to refer to al-Walid ibn al-Mughira, a staunch opponent of the Prophet.

d. Or ‘[for the poor]’.

e. This is the meaning of the Arabic expression ‘when shins are bared’.

f. Baydawi suggests that this is because the time for obedience is over, or because they are somehow unable to do so (Tafsir).

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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