Previous Page TOC Next PageSee File

68. The Pen
(or The Letter N)

THIS CHAPTER contains 52 very early Meccan verses, all except for vv. 17-23, which form a graphic parable of "The Arrogant Orchardmen", (OR "The Blighted Garden" as it is sometimes called). These farmers committed the sin of arrogation and ended up by losing their crops (i). Another later story in vv. 48-50 concerns the prophet Jonah (ii). Both of these tales date from Madina. The main body however was revealed after The Clot 96 (with which it should be compared), and before Bundled Up 73.

This chapter brought comfort to the Prophet, and it is sometimes called the "Second Revelation". Its initial statement shows his growing preoccupation concerning literacy.

In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!

Muhammad Not Deranged

* N.

By the pen and whatever they record, * you, by your Lord's favor, are no madman! * You will receive payment which will never be withheld.
* You have been [formed] with tremendous character, ** so you will observe even as they observe, * which of you is being tested. * Your Lord is quite Aware as to who has strayed from His path, just as He is quite Aware as to who are guided. Do not obey rejectors; * they would love to have you shift about so they too may shift around. ** Do not obey every contemptible oathmonger, any faultfinder who goes around spreading gossip, * hindering good, defiant, vicious, * brawling, and a bastard besides that * even though he possesses both money and children. ** Whenever Our verses are recited to him, he says: "Legends by primitive people!"

* We shall brand him on the snout!

The Arrogant Orchardmen

* We shall test them just as We tested the owners of the orchard when they swore they would pick its fruit next morning * and did not make any reservation about having a second chance; * so a calamity from your Lord came round to them while they were sleeping ** and one morning it lay as if it had been already harvested!

* Thus they called out to one another next morning: * "Get out early to your crop if you [want to] harvest it!" * They hurried off muttering to one another: *"Dont admit any needy person in on you today!"

** So they went off early, grumbling yet ready for work, * and when they saw it, they said: "We must be lost! * In fact, we feel destitute."

* Someone more considerate among them said: "Did I not tell you: 'Why do you not glorify [God]?"' * They said: "Glory be to our Lord; we have been doing (something) wrong."

** Still some of them pounced on others, blaming one another;
* they said: "It's too bad for us; we have been so arrogant. * Perhaps our Lord will exchange it for something even better than what we already have. We will plead with our Lord!"

* Such is torment, although torment in the Hereafter will be even greater if they only realized it.

(ii) * The heedful will have gardens of bliss alongside their Lord. ** Are We to treat Muslims as if they were criminals? * What is wrong with you? How do you decide matters? * Or do you have some book to study from? * Do you have whatever you select from it? * Or do you have some pledge binding on Us until Resurrection Day that you shall have whatever you decide upon?" ** Ask them which of them will lay claim to that. * Or do they have associates [along with God]? Well, let them bring on their associates if they are so truthful.

* Some day when their shinbone will be laid bare and they will be called upon to bow down on their knees, and they will not manage to; * with their eyes cast down, disgrace will overwhelm them. They had been called upon to bow down on their knees while they still felt safe.

* Leave Me Alone as well as anyone who rejects this account: We will lead them on gradually by means they do not recognize. ** I shall even put up with them for a while; for My plan is certain.


* Or are you asking them for some fee while they are weighted down with debt? * Or do they hold the Unseen which they are writing down? * Be patient with your Lord's decision and not like the Whale's Companion when he called out as he felt stifled. * If favor from his Lord had not reached him, he would have been flung upon the empty beach while he was still to blame. ** His Lord picked him out and placed him with honorable people.

* The ones who disbelieve almost trip you up by glaring at you whenever they hear the Reminder, and they say: "He's deranged!" Yet it is merely a Reminder to [everybody in] the Universe.


Published with authorization from Dr.T.B.Irving .