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Get to Know Surah Ar-Rahman – With Brother Nouman

Episode 11

Get to know one of the most beautiful surahs in the Quran with the most repeated phrase ‘and what of the favors, wonders and gifts from your Lord will you be in denial of?’

Get to Know a Surah of the Quran is a series of videos brother Nouman Ali Khan presented in 2016 during the month of Ramadan.

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


In this surah, Allah (SWT) addresses both human beings and the jinn.

That is something unique which Allah does in this surah, and throughout the surah everything is in pairs.

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Just like a pair of species are being talked to (human beings and jinn), Jannahs are in pairs, so He talks about them twice, He talks about gardens twice,…

Across the board, there is this theme of pairs moving along.

Why Repetition?

The thing about repetition in this surah, the first thing I want you to know is that repetition is done for certain purposes.

It is not just for style or for emphasis, but it has a greater rhetorical and communicative purpose.

And that purpose is actually the expression of anger.

How much more ungrateful can you be?

How much more ungrateful can you be?…

It is this progression of Allah’s anger towards people who just completely reject the idea of gratitude, who look around them and don’t feel any need or compulsion to being thankful for what they have been given.

And that’s how the ayat progress…

But then, that same exact phrase as you get to the latter half of the surah where Allah starts talking about Heaven, and the people of Heaven and He says:

{So which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?} (55:47)

Here He imposes His favor on those He has benefited, not just in this world, but in the next also, so as that same phrase gets more and more intense as it builds up in its intensity in the first half of the surah, it actually starts declining and gets softer and more and more loving as an expression of Allah’s love in the latter half of the surah.

That is part of the beautiful tool and texture of the surah, Surat Ar-Rahman.

Five Passages

Now about the subject matter of the surah, it is interesting that it is broken up into five passages.

You can say that there are five distinct subject matters in this surah.

The first of them is Allah’s grand gift of the teaching of the Qur’an:

{The Most Merciful. Taught the Qur’an.} (55:1-2)

That is the first subject matter, and how the Qur’an is catered to the nature of human beings and how it resonates with its inner selves, and how that is an expression of Allah’s love, care and mercy.

That is why it is predicated by Ar-Rahman. Taught the Qur’an, not Al-Aleem (The Most Knowledgeable) taught the Qur’an.

No, it is the One who is exceedingly loving and merciful and caring is the One who taught the Qur’an.

So Allah’s act of teaching the Qur’an is an act of love and care and mercy. That’s the first passage.

Beyond that, He says for the people who don’t appreciate the marvel of this Book, they tend to be the same people that don’t appreciate the marvel in anything.

They don’t appreciate the marvel all around them, so He starts pointing out things all around us, like the creation of the sun and the moon {The sun and the moon [move] by precise calculation,} (55:5)

Also {And the stars and trees prostrate.} (55:6), which are particular to the Arab taste as they did not have much of a landscape, but at night they could appreciate a sky full of stars, and in the day time one rare tree they will find in the desert landscape, and it is a symbol of beauty to them.

So He calls upon the things that they look upon as symbols of beauty for pondering and for appreciation.

He starts talking about the oceans and the pearls that come out of them, and how the ships sail in the sea, etc.

So these worldly gifts of Allah are the second passage…

Judgement Day

The third passage of the surah is actually about Judgement Day.

He basically gathers both human beings and jinns, and says:

{We will attend to you, O prominent beings.} (55:31)

He gathers them together, and Judgement Day begins, and the skies are starting to rip, and there are rocks falling and burned copper, and burned metal falling on to the ground.

The earth itself is tearing open. All this cataclysm is happening, and that’s being described. And the criminals are running and they don’t even have to be asked, you can tell from the look on their faces where they stand.

Then the questioning begins, and as a result of the questioning the worst of the criminals are being chucked into the Hell fire.

A very horrific, graphic scene in this surah, which begs the question for a lot of people: How can the surah begin with Ar-Rahman (the exceedingly loving, caring, merciful) and then have such a graphic description of Hell right in the middle of the surah?

This is part of Allah describing His mercy.


Because whether you like it or not, Hell fire exists, and it is better for you to hear of it and be horrified by its description in word rather than having to see it.

Allah is actually giving us the gift of the people given revelation before us, they have lost the idea that Hell is a scary place, and make mockery of it.

Some of them have even erased all mention of it from their revelations.

For Muslims, Hell is never a joke because Allah does not let it be. It’s too serious of a thing.

And that’s a gift of Allah to us.

Imagine a danger coming and people are taking it as a joke, and they are not ready to deal with it, nor are they in any position to protect themselves and take any precaution to be able to arm themselves against it.

That’s a gift from Allah to those who terrify them out of their wits in this surah.

Heaven 1 & Heaven 2

And once He terrifies them, now begins the discussion of Paradise, but the way it begins it’s so beautiful.

{But for he who has feared the position of his Lord are two gardens} (55:46)

In other words, first He scares you, and if you get scared you get Heaven, Subhan Allah.

It’s so beautiful, that even when He scares you He scares you for a larger purpose, and that’s to grant you Jannah. May Allah make us from the people of Jannah

So those gardens start getting described, with beautiful fruits, spouses, housing, waterfalls, and all of it.

And then He says: {And below them both [in excellence] are two [other] gardens} (55:62)

And another set of gardens get described, which is peculiar.

Why not just give one description of gardens?

Why break them up into two?

And then describe them all over again … with all its fruits and beautiful spouses? …

To find out the answer, and for more reflections and details on this surah explained by brother Nouman, and to watch the full episode, please click here.

Read Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 –  Part 7 – Part 8 – Part 9Part 10

(From Discovering Islam archive)