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Get to Know Surah Al-Qasas – with Brother Nouman

Get to Know – Episode 6

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3– Part 4Part 5

Do you want to understand Surah Al-Qasas at a deeper level?

Get to Know a Surah of the Quran is a new series of videos brother Nouman Ali Khan presented this year during the month of Ramadan.

The following is a summary of some of the most important points and reflections brother Nouman mentioned in this sixth episode.


This Surah features in its longest section the story of Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, before his conversation with Allah at the mountain.

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It takes us back to the scene where he was going to be killed because the armies of Pharaoh were going to come in and slaughter everybody, and his mother had thrown him into the river.

From there, his entire life story leading up to the mountain is described, though this Surah does also cover how he challenges the Pharaoh and how that transpires, and we learn details of that as well, but primarily the emphasis is everything leading up to the mountain.

This includes what was his story before he got to the mountain.

How did he end up getting married anyway?

How did he escape Egypt?

Why did he have to run from Egypt?

Why were they after him? Why did they want to kill him?

What compelled him to come back?

All of that stuff is captured very beautifully in a very dramatic way in the beginning of this Surah.

Stories in the Qur’an

Something you should notice about story-telling in the Qur’an is that in a lot of places in the Qur’an Allah will tell a story, and by the time He concludes the story, He will have a special comment just to the Prophet himself, peace be upon him.

All of us are audiences to this story, but the first audience to this story is the original recipient, the Prophet himself, peace be upon him.

So Allah will say, by the way here are lessons that you need to take from the story, meaning the Prophet himself, peace be upon him.

So this is a special acknowledgement of the Prophet being the original recipient of the Qur’an that you will find in multiple cases; a story being told followed by a commentary to the Prophet, peace be upon him.

Now what is really cool about this Surah in particular is we really appreciate the power of the Qur’an discourse if you appreciate how it is organized. Take some observations about how the Surah is organized.

This is a fairly long Surah, and what you will notice is that at the end there is a replica.

In other words, at the beginning of the Surah you have a long account to Musa’s life, followed by comments to the Prophet.

The Story of Qarun

At the end of this Surah, you have another story, with another character (his name is Qarun), and he is not talked about in detail anywhere except in this place.

So this Surah, the stories it contains are unique. Meaning the chapter as it unfolds of the life of Musa, and the story of Qarun which is unique. We don’t learn anything else about him anywhere else in the Qur’an in the way we do here.

So it tells us the story of Qarun, and as soon as that story is done, the Surah concludes with comments to the Prophet.

So story with comments in the beginning, then story with comments at the end.

That’s how this whole Surah is organized, and then in the middle is the meat of the Surah, which I will tell you about it in a second.

But first I want to tell you, Musa and Qarun, what is the point of putting them in the same Surah, and at opposite ends of the Surah?

You notice about the story of Qarun, Allah will tell us things that will make you think that he is the alternative version of Musa, like everything Musa isn’t, Qarun is.

And everything Qarun isn’t, Musa is.

{Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, “Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant.} (28:76)

This story then concludes with comments to the Prophet, peace be upon him.

The Middle of the Surah

Now I want to show you what is happening in the middle of the Surah.

If you want to understand the middle well, you can break it up into two halves also.

So you have two parts that are at either extreme ends of the Surah, and there are two parts in the middle.

And the way to really understand what is happening in terms of subject matter is, I will use a little bit of algebra to help you understand, you can think of Half 1 & Half 2.

In Half 1, you can think of it as an A – B – A organization. I will tell you what that means.

Allah will first talk about the Qureish, and what kind of excuses they make.

I want to read some of them to you.

So, the Qureish will say things like:

{But when the truth came to them from Us, they said, “Why was he not given like that which was given to Moses?…”} (28:48)

(So the Qureish say) He is telling us all these amazing things that happened with Moses, we don’t see a stick turning into a snake, we don’t see water parting. So why should we be impressed with Muhammad? Why does he not show us impressive things like Musa was able to show the Pharaoh?

The Qureish make the same excuses.

And they are immature in the way they are approaching the subject of the validity or the authenticity of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

And Allah compares their attitude to a second group, which is a sincere group of Jews and Christians, who hear the message of the Qur’an and it resonates with them.

And Allah will talk about them, the sincere of the People of the Book and say:

{Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, “We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah ].”} (28:52-53)

So there is a contrast.

There is a group of unlettered Qureish who say we need to be impressed like the Pharaoh was impressed, and they don’t realize that they are calling themselves Pharaoh in doing so.

And on the other hand the mature attitude, even those who are not Muslims yet, who heard this revelation who were so moved by it, and they want to accept the faith.

And then we go back to A again, which is the Qureish making excuses, and they say: {And they say, “If we were to follow the guidance with you, we would be swept from our land…”} (28:57)

And Allah responds to their excuses: {Have we not established for them a safe sanctuary to which are brought the fruits of all things as provision from Us?} (28:57)

So in this first half, you have the Qureish excuses and then you have people who have a mature attitude towards listening to this revelation and considering it, and then He goes back to more excuses that they make.

That’s the A – B – A construct.

In the second half of the Surah, you find another kind of structure, and that is A – B – A – B …

For more details on this Surah explained by brother Nouman, and to watch the full episode, please click here.

(From Discovering Islam archive)