Observations on how Surah Fuṣṣilat is organized in the Quran
Surah Fuṣṣilat (That Which is Explained in Detail) is one of the medium-length suar of the Quran. When observed on a macro-level, it appears to be structured in a ring.
For the sake of brevity the Arabic has been omitted, so we encourage you to read through the translation at least once to fully benefit from the breakdown below.
Overall, it appears that that the surah may be organized as follows, with the ayah numbers shown in parentheses:
The surah begins with a concise description of Allah ﷻ as “the Most Compassionate, the Infinitely Compassionate,” and ends the surah with a much more detailed description of Him. The concluding ayaat describe Allah ﷻ as “not in the least bit unjust to His servants,” the One who has “knowledge of the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment),” the One who dispenses mercy and favors, “a witness over all,” and the One who is “encompassing of all things”.
Both sections here begin by describing the Message, i.e. the Quran. Section B explains that the Quran is, “a Book of which the verses are made plain,” and, “an Arabic Quran” as well as, “a herald of good news and a warner.” Section B’ goes on to add that it is “the Reminder,” “a Mighty Book,” and that “falsehood will not come to it from before it nor from behind it; a revelation from the Wise, the Praised One.”
Following their descriptions of the Quran, both sections transition to speaking of the Messenger ﷺ and his call. In Section B, the disbelievers begin by mockingly saying that their “hearts are covered and can’t respond” to what the Messenger ﷺ calls them to. In response, the Messenger ﷺ is commanded to say that he is “only a mortal like you all” and to spread the message that “your god is one God, therefore follow the right way to Him and ask His forgiveness,” and to warn against ignoring their monetary responsibility to the poor and to give good news of reward for those who obey.
In a similar vein, Section B’ mentions the rejection of the message, and ends with a practical example of a messenger from the past saying, “And certainly We gave the Book to Moses, but it has been differed about, and had not a word already gone forth from your Master, judgment would certainly have been given between them; and most surely they are in a disquieting doubt about it.”
Sections C and C’ both refer to Allah’s creative ability and His major creations. Altogether, both sections speak of His creation of the “earth,” “mountains,” “heavens,” “stars,” “sun,” “moon,” “night,” and “day”.
The center passages are a beautiful compliment to each other. The first (D) describes at length the transgressions of past nations and the result of them denying the message. The section ends on an ominous note as Allah ﷻ says, “That is the reward of the enemies of Allah-- the fire; for them therein shall be the house of long abiding; a reward for their denying Our communications. And those who disbelieve will say: Our Master! Show us those who led us astray from among the jinn and the men that we may trample them under our feet so that they may be of the lowest.”
In contrast to this, D’ describes those who obey Allah ﷻ and their reward for doing so. Allah ﷻ says, “(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the garden which you were promised. We are your guardians in this life and in the hereafter, and you shall have therein what your souls desire and you shall have therein what you ask for: A provision from the Forgiving, the Merciful.”
وَاللّهُ أَعلَم - And Allah knows best
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