Reflections on Surat Luqman

Reflections on Surat Luqman

The limitless words of Allah

Surat Luqman has a unique and beautiful verse in it:

If all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean ˹were ink˺, refilled by seven other oceans, the Words of Allah would not be exhausted. Surely Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (31:27)

The reason behind this revelation was that the disbelievers were challenging the Quran and telling the Prophet (peace be on him) that the revelation would end and there would be nothing after that.

Allah Almighty responded by saying imagine if all the trees were pens, (how many pens there would be!), these pens would need ink. Imagine if the seven seas were the ink for these pens, the seas/ink would run out, but by contrast the Words of Allah would never end.

The words of Allah reflect His magnificence and attributes.

The seven seas

Allah Almighty used the number 7 for the seas, but He is not restricting the number to seven, but using it to signify an abundant number. The Arabs use the number 7, 70, 700, 70,000 to mean many, many, as we use the number ten or a million in English. For instance, in Arabic you might say ‘I called you 7 times but you did not reply!’ whereas in English you would say, ‘I called you ten times’ or ‘I called you a million times’ meaning so many.

A thousand months

When Allah Almighty described Lailatul Qadr He said:

The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months; (97:3)

Here it does not mean that Lailatul Qadr is literally equivalent to a thousand months (i.e 83 years and 4 months). It means limitless, as a thousand was the highest number the Arabs knew at the time. If they wanted to express a million, they did not say 1 million, they said a thousand thousand. They did not have the word for a number bigger than a thousand. Therefore in this ayah, Allah Almighty was speaking to them in the language they understood. Therefore, the value of Lailatul Qadr is not restricted to a thousand years, but has unlimited blessings, beyond a thousand years.

Allah’s knowledge

When Allah Almighty compared His infinite knowledge to the seven seas, it means that His knowledge is far beyond our comprehension. His knowledge and words will never end.

When the Jewish people asked the Prophet (peace be on him) about the soul, Allah Almighty’s reply put our tiny knowledge in its place. He said in Surat al Isra:

And they ask you about the Spirit. Say, “The Spirit is of the Command of my Lord; and in no way have you been brought of knowledge except a little.” (17:85)

The Jewish people said their knowledge was not a little, as they had the Torah, they were being shown that the Torah was tiny compared to the knowledge of Allah Almighty.

Say, “If the ocean were ink for the words of my Lord, the ocean would run out, before the words of my Lord run out,” even if We were to bring the like of it in addition to it. (18:109)

Allah Almighty said in another verse:

They have not esteemed Allah as He ought to be esteemed. The entire earth will be in His grip on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be folded in His right. Immaculate is He, and Transcendent He is beyond the associations they make.  (39:67)

We ask Allah to bless us in the special nights and days and to give us from His vast knowledge what we can apply and disseminate and we ask Him to forgive all of us and give us good wellbeing.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.