What is The Use of Metaphors in Surah Mulk?

Throughout Surah Mulk, Allah Almighty employs brilliant metaphors to engage the audience, prompting us to contemplate the true purpose of our existence and to be aware of the harsh consequences of our poor choices made in the Duniya.

The Use of Metaphors in Surah Mulk

Some notable metaphors include one in Ayah No. 3, where Allah Almighty mentions the seven layers of heaven and how they are seamlessly merged into one another. As we contemplate their flawless design, we are humbled and forced to lower our graze in awe. This prompts us to question why we have become so heedless and denied Allah Almighty despite the Rahima (mercy). He continues to show us throughout our lifetime. If everything in nature is so balanced and even the earth is subservient to us, why are we so violent and at odds with nature?

Metaphors in Surah Mulk

The seamless nature of the Heavens also reminds us of the interconnectedness of life and death, as Allah Almighty mentions in ayah No. 2: Life and death flow seamlessly into one another, with seven different stages that we go through in our existance:

Aalam-e-Arwa (Our Primordial Existance)

  • Death to be sent to Earth as Human Beings.
  • Birth in the Belly of the Mother.
  • Existence in the Dunya.
  • Death in the Barzakh.
  • Resurrection of the Day of Judgement.
  • Finally, Eternal Life in the Afterlife.

Ayat No. 5 mentions the pelting of shayatin by stars, describing the stars as missiles keeping the shayatin at bay. Shayatin comes in two types: ‘Material’ and ‘Immaterial’. The “Hasid” (the one who envies) is an example of the former, while the ”Whisperer” (the one who whispers into Pur Sudoor and then retracts) is the latter. The batin (inner) meaning of this metaphor seems to be that there are devils that live inside us. We rely so much on worldly pleasures and other sources that when we are forced to look at the sky, we are truly humbled and realize that the only reliance and trust worth having is in Allah Almighty, the creator of this gigantic universe.

The reference to the stars is significant because nowhere else in the Quran has Allah Almighty taken such a powerful oath against any object other than in Surah Waqi’ah, where Allah Almighty says:

“I swear by the setting of the stars, and it is indeed a mighty oath if you but knew it” {56:75–76}.

The stars were the only source of guidance for the Bedouin Arabs, who would travel at night. Allah Almighty is trying to tell us that our guiding companion in our journey through life is none other than the Holy Quran, the true understanding and application of which will disarm and allow us to cast away the Shayatin that reside within us! Ayah No. 22 mentions a man who walks with his face bent down. However, it does not mention the reason why. The path could be very dark or extremely uneven. The image of always looking down is similar to dogs who have their heads down, sniffing and searching for something most of the time.

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Thus, Allah Almighty is trying to tell us that during our journey through this life, we are either blinded by own heedlessness or continuously stumbling and getting hurt by trials and tribulations from which we do not learn. We become so absorbed in the dunya, a route that is mostly dark and full of bottlenecks and hurdles, that we cannot find the way. The path to guidance only emerges when we look up. Therefore, there is a constant reference to ‘Looking at the sky’ until we finally discover the right path that bring us closer to him.

The Quran and Sunnah serve as the navigation and guidance to return to Allah Almighty in the Duniya. Let us find numerous metaphors in the Quran and try to absorb their essence. There is nothing more powerful than the poetry of Allah Almighty, espically because it has the capacity to have a significant impact on our souls. I will leave you with my favorite metaphor from the Quran:

“Allah Almighty is the light of the Heavens and the Earth. The parable of his light is as if there were a niche in which there is a lamp; the lamp is enclosed in crystal, the crystal is of a star-like brilliance, and it is lit with the olive oil from a blessed olive tree that is neither eastern nor western; its very oil would be almost luminous through no fire touched it–as through all the means of increasing light upon light are provided– Allah Almighty, guides to his light whom he pleases. Allah (SWT), cites such parables to make his message clear to the people, and Allah Almighty has knowledge of everything.” (Surah Noor, 24:35)

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