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By the Ocean

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The following excerpt is taken from “The Holy Quran: Text, Translation, and Commentary” by Abdullah Yusuf Ali pg. 1432-1433:

Quran 52:1-6:

By the Mount (of Revelation); By a Decree inscribed, In a Scroll unfolded; And the House (Kaaba) that is visited, By the Canopy Raised High; And by the Ocean filled with Swell;-

  1. By the Mount (of Revelation);
    The adjuration is by five things which we shall
    presently explain. An appeal is made to these five Signs
    in verses 1 to 6, and the certainty of future events is
    asserted in the most emphatic terms in verses 7 to 28,
    in three parts, viz.,the coming of judgment and the passing away of this
    phenomenal world (verses 7-10);the future ill consequences of ill-deeds done (verses
    11-16);and future attainment of bliss and complete
    realisation of Allah’s love and mercy (verses 17-28).
  2. By a Decree Inscribed,
    See last note.
    The five Signs to which appeal is made are:
  • the Mount (of Revelation), verse 1;
  • the Book Inscribed, verses 2-3;
  • The Much-frequented House, verse 4;
  • the Canopy Raised High, verse 5; and
  • the Ocean filled with Swell, verse 6.
    Let us examine these in detail. Each of them has a
    figurative meaning.
    • The Mount is the sublime world of Revelation.
    In the case of Moses it is typified by Mount Sinai:
    Cf. 95:2, where it is mentioned in juxtaposition to
    the sacred territory of Makkah, 95:3. 4
    In the case of Jesus it is the Mount of Olives: Cf.
    95:1, and also Matt. 24:3-51, where Jesus made
    his striking pronouncement about the Judgment to
    In the case of Muhammad it is the Mountain of
    Light, where he first received the revelation: Cf. n.
    • The Book Inscribed is Allah’s Eternal word.
    When it becomes Revelation to man, it is figured
    forth as something “inscribed”, reduced to
    writing; and as it is made clear to the intelligence
    of man,
    3. In a Scroll unfolded;
    it is further described as “in a parchment
    unfolded”, that is, spread out so that everyone
    who has the will can seek its guidance.
    4. By the much-frequented Fane;
    C5039. See the last two notes.
    • “The much-frequented Fane” (or House) is
    usually understood to mean the Ka’bah, which the
    holy Prophet purified and re-dedicated to true
    5. By the Canopy Raised High;

    • “The Canopy Raised High” is the canopy of
    heaven, to whose height or sublimity no limit can
    be assigned by the mind of man. It is Nature’s
    Temple in which all Creation worships Allah – the
    Symbol in which the material and the visible
    merges into the the spiritual and the intuitional.
    6. And by the Ocean…

    • The Ocean-the vast, limitless, all encircling
    Ocean. It is expressed to be masjur, full of a
    mighty swell, boiling over, poured forth all over
    the earth, as if overwhelming all landmarks; Cf.
    a fitting description of the final disappearance of
    our temporal world in the supreme establishment
    of the Reality behind it.

    … filled with Swell —
    This completes the five Signs by which man may
    know for certain of the Judgment to come.
    Note that they are in a descending order; –
  • the highest, or most remote from man’s
    consciousness, being mentioned first,
  • and that nearest to man’s consciousness being
    mentioned last.
  • The truth of Revelation; its embodiment in a
    Prophet’s Message given in human language;
  • the universal appeal of divine worship;
  • the starry world above; and the encircling Ocean, full
    of life and motion below,-
    all are evidences that the Day of Allah will finally come,
    and nothing can avert it. (R).

In Sufi interpretation each of these Symbols further typifies an aspect of the final Preacher of Unity: the Mount signifying his tremendous Personality; the Decree inscribed in a Scroll Unfolded, the perspicuous Quran: the much frequented Fane, his heart open to every living creature; the Canopy Raised on High, his spiritual eminence; and the Swelling Ocean, the vast sea of his living knowledge.


Yusuf Ali, Abdullah. Translation and Commentary of the Quran. (Surah 52 verses 1-6). Microsoft Word – 052 Tur.doc (

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