This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Qalam; to read its text see text:Sura al-Qalam.

Sūra al-Qalam (Arabic: سورة القلم, the pen) is the sixty eighth sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura, and with respect to its content, it counts as one of mumtahanat. It consists of fifty two verses. It occurs after Sura al-Mulk in the twenty nineth juz' of the Qur'an.

Sura al-Qalam
Sura Number68
Revelation Number2 or 5
Verse Count52
Word Count301
Letter Count1288\

Its contents include assuaging Prophet Muhammad's (s) worries about accusations made by polytheists against him, calling him to be patient, prohibiting him from following the polytheists, and reminding him about their punishments after the resurrection. The verse fifty one of this sura, known as Wa In Yakad Verse, is known as the verse of evil eyes.


  • Naming

Since this Quranic sura involves the word, "al-Qalam" (pen) in its first verse where God has sworn to the pen and what is written by it, it came to be known as "Sura al-Qalam". And since it begins with the disjoined letter, "n" (nūn), it also came to be called "Sura al-Nun" (سورة النون) or "Sura Nun wa l-Qalam" (سورة نون و القَلَم).[1]

  • Number of Verses

Reciters and exegetes of the Qur'an agree that this sura has fifty two verses, 301 words, and 1288 letters. With respect to its volume, it counts as one of the mufassalat suras; it is about half of hizb of the Qur'an.[2]

  • Order and Place of Revelation

In the traditional order of compilation, Sura al-Qalam is the sixty eighth sura of the Qur'an, and in the chronological order of revelation, it is the fifth or the second Qur'anic sura. It is the twenty nineth and the last Qur'anic sura which begins with al-muqatta'at (disjoined letters), and the tenth Qur'anic sura which begins with swearing.

Many exegetes of the Qur'an take this sura to be wholly Makki, and others take verses seventeen to thirty three as well as verses forty eight to fifty to be Madani and the rest to be Makki.[3]


Themes of this sura can be classified as follows:[4]

  • Specific characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and emphasis on his remarkable moral character.
  • Bad characteristics of polytheists and the enemies of the Prophet (s).
  • The story of "Ashab al-Janna" (Owners of the Garden) and warning the polytheists.
  • Reminding the resurrection and the punishments of polytheists.
  • Advising the Prophet (s) to be patient and resistant against the polytheists, and prohibiting him from following them.

Content of Sura al-Qalam[5]
A warning to people who accuse the Prophet (s) of insanity
First topic: verses 1-13
The wrongness of the claim of insanity about the Prophet (s)
Second topic: verses 14-33
The failure and disgrace of the Prophet's (s) enemies
Third topic: verses 34-50
The inevitability of the punishment of the Prophet's (s) enemies in the afterlife
Fourth topic: verses 51-52
Accusation of insanity is a sign of the desperation of the unbelievers in the face of the Qur'an
First point: verses 1-7
The reasons why the Prophet (s) was not insane
First point: verses 34-41
Believers and unbelievers will not have the same fate
Second point: verses 8-13
The Prophet's (s) duty with respect to his opponents
Second point: verses 42-43
A picture of the disgrace of the unbelievers on the Day of Judgment
Third point: verses 44-47
The gradual punishment of obstinate unbelievers
Fourth point: verses 48-50
The necessity of patience until the time comes for the punishment of the unbelievers

Story of the Owners of the Garden

Verses seventeen of Sura al-Qalam onwards report the story of some wealthy people who had a green, flourishing garden in Yemen. The garden was owned by an old man who made a living from it and gave the rest of the products to people in need. After his death, his children decided to take the whole benefits of the garden for themselves and not give anything to the poor people. Because of this, a thunderstorm stroke their garden and set it on fire. As a result, nothing was left from the garden. One of the brothers invited the others to God and they repented from their behavior.

The verse thirty three of this sura points out that arrogance or ignoring needy people has such a punishment as a consequence.[6]

Famous Verses

"And indeed you possess a great character."
Qur'an 68:4 written in Nasta'liq font, one of the main Persian calligraphy, by Ghulamhusayn Amirkhani

Great Morality of the Prophet (s)

The verse four of Sura al-Qalam is another well-known verse concerning the great morality of the Prophet (s).

Wa In Yakad Verse

Verses fifty first and fifty second of this sura are known as "Wa In Yakad Verse" or the "Verse of Evil Eye". Many people in Iran put boards or cloths containing this verse on the walls of their houses or work places, because they believe that it helps to prevent evil eyes. However, some scholars, such as Morteza Motahhari, believe that this verse, or having it in one's house or work place, is irrelevant to evil eyes, although evil eyes do have effects.[7]

Merits and Benefites

There is a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) concerning the merits of reciting Sura al-Qalam. According to the hadith, if someone recites this sura in his obligatory or recommended prayer, God will protect him against poverty and he will be immune to the pressure of the grave.[8]

According to another hadith, the reward for reciting Sura al-Qalam is equal to that of a person the fulfilment of whose wishes is postponed by God. It is also said that if this sura is written on something and is put on a damaged tooth, one's toothache will calm down then.


External Links


  1. Khurramshāhī, Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1257.
  2. Khurramshāhī, Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1258.
  3. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān, vol. 1, p. 168.
  4. Khāmigar, Sākhtār-i sūrahā-yi Qurʾān, vol. 1.
  5. Khamagar, Muhammad, Sakhtar-i suraha-yi Qur'an-i karim, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangi-yi Qur'an wa 'Itrat-i Nur al-Thaqalayn, Qom: Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.
  6. Makārim Shīrāzī, Barguzīda-yi tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 248-251.
  7. Motahhari, Majmūʿa-yi āthār, vol. 27, p. 631-632.
  8. Ṣadūq, Thawāb al-aʿmāl, p. 119.
  9. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 5, p. 451.


  • Baḥrānī, Hāshim b. Sulaymān al-. Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Biʿthat, 1415 AH.
  • Khāmigar, Muḥamamd. Sākhtār-i sūrahā-yi Qurʾān. Qom: Nashr-i Nashrā, 1392 Sh.
  • Khurramshāhī, Bahāʾ al-Dīn. Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Nāhīd, 1377 Sh.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Barguzīda-yi tafsīr-i nimūna. Fourth edition. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1377 Sh.
  • Maʿrifat, Muḥammad Hādī. Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān. Qom: Markaz-i Chāp wa Nashr-i Sāzmān-i Tablīghāt, 1371 Sh.
  • Motahhari, Morteza. Majmūʿa-yi āthār. Tenth edition. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Ṣadrā, 1387 Sh.
  • Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Thawāb al-aʿmāl wa ʿiqāb al-aʿmāl. Edited by Ṣādiq Ḥasanzāda. Qom: Armaghān-i Ṭūbā, 1382 Sh.