68-The Pen / Al-Qalam:

In God’s Name, whose Mercy is Great and Continuous:

(68:1)   I swear by the letters of this Quran, and I swear by the pen and what is written.

(68:2)   Oh Muhammad, you have not become crazy for following the guidance I have given.

(68:3)   And you will get a reward with no ending.

(68:4)   Following it has made you a good moral person.

(68:5)   You will see and they will see,

(68:6)   which of you is truly crazy.

(68:7)   No one knows better than Me. I know who is lost and who has found Me.

(68:8)   Do not follow those who reject this message and warning.

(68:9)   They would love for you to put your beliefs up for negotiation.

(68:10) Do not follow people who swear to lies, wretched,

(68:11) insulting and rude, going around spreading rumors,

(68:12) people who prevent others from doing good, who are oppressive and sinful,

(68:13) fake, mean, cruel, and ill-tempered.

(68:14) Don’t follow people like this because you see they have a lot of money and children.

(68:15) When the Quran is read to them they say, “These are legends.”

(68:16) Their faces will be branded on the Day of Resurrection.

(68:17) I am testing them like I tested the owners of the orchard. They swore they would pick its fruits in the morning,

(68:18) without leaving anything for the poor or saying ‘God willing’.

(68:19) So My command encircled it while they were sleeping.

(68:20) By morning it was burnt to the ground, completely ruined.

(68:21) Then they called to each other waking:

(68:22) “To pick the fruits, let’s go early.”

(68:23) So they left walking and talking quietly;

(68:24) saying to each other, “Let us pick the orchard before a poor person comes asking.”

(68:25) So they left early collectively committed and thinking they could prevent the poor people from getting anything.

(68:26) When they saw their orchard they said, “We must be lost…

(68:27) No, we were denied everything.”

(68:28) The best of them said, “Didn’t I tell you: Remember God is watching.”

(68:29) They said, “May God forgive us. We were unjust.”

(68:30) Then they turned on each other blaming.

(68:31) Then they started saying, “How terrible we were, all of us, everyone.

(68:32) We are turning back to God and hope for His forgiveness and that He will replace our orchard with a better one.”

(68:33) This is how punishment works. If you only knew, the punishment of the next world is much worse.

(68:34) I have gardens of peace and happiness for those who are fearful of disobeying Me and are humble.

(68:35) Do people think they will get what they want in the next life because I treat the obedient like the sinful?

(68:36) How could they think so?

(68:37-38) Are they studying a book that says I treat the good the same as the wicked?

(68:39) Or do they have an oath from Me that, on the Day of Judgment, everyone is treated equal?

(68:40) Ask them, who among them claims so?

(68:41) Or do they have someone on their side, instead of Me, to save them? They should produce this person if they are truthful.

(68:42) On that day My power is exposed. They will be called to prostrate but will not be able to.

(68:43) They will be looking down overcome with humiliation. They used to be called to prayer in life when they were able to.

(68:44) Leave to Me those who reject this warning. I will take them to their punishment one step at a time and they will not realize what is happening.

(68:45) Give them some time. My plan will take them by surprise and overpower them for their sinning.

(68:46) Are you asking a price for teaching them that they find too taxing?

(68:47) Or can they write about the unseen things on their own without anyone teaching them?

(68:48) Be patient for My judgment, and do not make the same mistake as Prophet Jonah. He called to Me asking for forgiveness for his impatience in a state of depression.

(68:49) If it wasn’t for My mercy reaching him, he would have been thrown out with his mistake onto the desolate land of the Day of Resurrection.

(68:50) I saved and forgave him and made him among the good people who come to Me in humble submission.

(68:51) Those who reject this message give a look that could kill and call you crazy because of their revulsion.

(68:52) When this is a message for everyone and a warning to save them.

Chapter Notes:

Verse 1: This chapter, like a few other chapters of the Quran, begins with flowing Arabic letters. In this case it is one letter pronounced “Noon.” Many interpretations have been given for these letters. Some early Quran scholars interpreted these letters as abbreviations. Some interpreted them to mean that God is swearing by the letters of the Arabic alphabet to show their importance for writing and their basis for forming the Quran. This was the opinion followed in this case because it flows well with God swearing by what is written which is in the same verse. Others refrained from saying anything about them and saying only God knows the meaning. From that approach, it is as if the letters are saying “This book is from God and only God knows all of its secrets.” The simplest explanation is to remember that the Quran was revealed in the language of the Arabs fourteen hundred years ago. While they frequently had poetry competitions, it was unknown in their literature to begin a text with flowing individual letters. To them, listening to the flowing individual letters would have had the effect of attracting their attention to something new they had never heard before. So it was a beautiful way of saying “pay attention and listen to what is coming next.” It is also possible that the letters are there simply for their melodic quality.

Verses 2-13: Some verses in the Quran were revealed addressing the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, or specific individuals who were insulting him or hurting him. Often the Quran does not mention the names of those who were originally being referenced to make the message general. This was the case here.

Verses 17-32: These verses are referring to a well known incident at the time. A man owned a large orchard and he would regularly give thanks to God by feeding the poor people at harvest time. When he died, his children inherited the orchard and the Quran relates the details of what happened as a warning and a lesson for others.

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Disclaimer: The focus of this site is to provide a comprehensive and deep understanding of the Quran's message, and do so in a manner that is engaging and accessible to the average reader.  Every translation involves compromises, and the content on this site is no different. However, every effort was made to capture as much of the spirit and message of the Quran as possible, relying on the most respected and accepted classical scholarly texts in the field. God willing, the material on this site can be relied upon as a solid beginning on the journey towards understanding the Quran as it was revealed in its classical Arabic. If you have a question as to why a certain verse was translated a certain way, the answer can usually be found in: Fath Al-Qadeer by Imam Al-Shawkani, or feel free to E-mail us your questions.
1- The Opening / Al-Fatihah

2-The Cow - Part 1
2-The Cow - Part 2
2-The Cow - Part 3
2-The Cow - Part 4
2-The Cow - Part 5
2-The Cow - Part 6
2-The Cow - Part 7
18-The Cave / Al-Kahf
19-Mary Mother of Jesus / Maryam
24-The Light 35-40
29-The Spider
67-God's Kingdom / Al-Mulk
68-The Pen / Al-Qalam

69-Day of Accountability / Al-Haqqah
70-The Levels / Al-Ma'arij:
71- Noah / Nuh
72- The Jinn / Al-Jinn
73-Wrapped with Responsibility / Al-Muzzammil

74-Get out of Bed / Al-Muddaththir

75-Day of Resurrection / Al-Qiyamah

76-Humanity / Al-Insan

77-What I send / Mursalat

78-The News / An-Naba

79-The Angels Who Pull Out Your Souls / An-Naziat

80-He Frowned / Abasa

81-When the Sun Collapses and Dies / At-Takwir

82-The Tearing / Al-Infitar

83-The Cheaters / Al-Mutaffifin

84-Ripped Open / Al-Inshiqaq
85-The Constellations / Al-Buruj

86-The Brilliant Stars / At-Tariq
87-The Most High / Al-A'la
88-The Overhelming Day / Al-Ghashiyah
89-The Dawn / Al-Fajr
90-The Sacred Land of Makkah / Al-Balad
91-The Sun / Ash-Shams
92-The Night / Al-Lail
93-Morning / Ad-Duha
94-Insight and Understanding / Ash-Sharh
95-The Fig / At-Teen
96-The Clot / Al-Alaq
97-The Night of Destiny / Al-Qadr
98-Clear Evidence / Al-Bayyinah

99-The Earthquake / Al-Zalzalah
100-Running Horses /Al-Adiyat
101-Terrifying / Al-Qariah
102-Collecting Things / Al-Takathur
103-Time / Asr
104-Backbiting / Al-Humazah
105-The Elephant / Al-Feel
106-The Tribe of Quraish / Quraish
107-Small Assistance / Al-Ma'un
108-A River in Paradise Called Kauthar / Al-Kauthar
109-Those Who Reject the Truth
110-My Support / Al-Nasr
111-Twisted Braided Rope / Al-Masad
112-Pure Intention / Al-Ikhlas
113-Daybreak / Al-Falaq
114-People / Al-Nas