What is the Use of Imagery in Surah Mulk?

Surah Mulk is a relatively short Surah, but the subject matter is extremely heavy. To convey the massage effectively, Allah Almighty has used powerful imagery. Some notable references to imagery include Ayat No.7, which vividly describe the disbelievers who are about to be thrown into the hellfire.

The Use of Imagery in Surah Mulk

The fire is raging, and an extremely painful sound is heard. The use of the word ‘Shaheek‘ depicts the outcry of a donkey, as if the cry is coming from its chest. Such will be the sound of the blazing fire, which will be extremely disturbing as it yearns to feed off the “Faujon” (Army) of disbelievers. They will be treated like mules, hence the braying sound of the mules! As they hear these noises (Izza) and look down at the hellfire, they will see the fire ascending upwards (Tafoor).

The Use of Imagery in Surah Mulk

They are being thrown down as the fire rises, bringing to mind the depth of Jahannam, as if it were a huge pit that could accommodate an endless number of people and still leave them wanting more. Ayat No. 8 further elaborates on the sound of the impact when people enter Jahannam. The words “تَمَيَّزُ” (Bursts up) and “ٱلْغَيْظِ” (Fury) are analogous to extremely hot, boiling oil in a large wok. When something is thrown into it to be deep-fried, it creates a huge hissing sound as the oil ruptures and penetrates the food.

The comparison of the earth-made subservient (Zalool), depicted in Ayat No. 15, is in sharp contrast to the blazingly violent nature of hellfire. Ayat No. 30 is also extremely dramatic, as it closes the Surah by leaving us stumped. Allah Almighty asks Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to convey his message using the word “Kull” (Tell them), as he doesn’t even consider them worthy enough of being directly addressed, i.e., the disbelievers. He closes the Surah by leaving the disbelievers silent as he threatens them with taking the very source of their sustenance, their water, which they so boldly take pride in. The scene ends with all the pride and haughtiness of the Quraysh coming crashing down, as they indeed have no rebuttal to this bold statement of Allah Almighty.

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It shows that Allah Almighty starts and ends this beloved Surah by refreshing our memory of the constant barakah that he bestows upon us. He starts by telling us that only he can offer excessive goodness to us (Tabarak) and ends by threatening to take away the very blessing that we take for granted, our water! The seamlessness of the heavens, the pelting of the Shayaten with the star, the devastation and plight of the disbelievers as they acknowledge their sins, the reminder of the Nazeer (warner), and the reference to the birds in the sky with their wings spread out are a few other examples of the powerful use of imagery by Allah Almighty in this Surah.

Few Words

Sometimes we need to be jolted awake to assess the true reality that we are living. Being comfortable in believing that there will be little or no consequences for our actions or (in) actions is living in a fool’s paradise. The sooner we come to terms with Allah’s way life, the more chance we have to redeem ourselves. It’s never too late. Let us open our eyes and start right now!