Quranic Word Series: Qaleel

Today’s Quranic Word is: Qaleel

As we have seen in the video, Qaleel literally means little or few. It is used in the Quran to refer to the status or condition of the people good and bad. It has been mentioned in the Quran about 70 times.

Usually when something is referred to as being from among the ‘few’, it means that it is rare or special. This statement is used primarily to praise people that hold on to the rope of Allah. It also is used to blame the people who hold on to the temporary things in this dunya.

Most people referred to as ‘a few in number’ are those ones that do not really understand what they are doing or can easily be crushed out.That is why Fir’awn referred to Musa and his people as a group that was few in number out of mockery and joke. Allah says, quoting him,

إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلُونَ –

[And said], “Indeed, those are a group that is few in number. {26:54}

But Allah let us know that the serious ‘few’ suffice in front of Allah rather than the large crowd that lacks insight. And these few people are always in the quick assistance of Allah. We find in the Quran that Saul informed his soldiers that they would be tested by Allah. Their test was a river. The soldiers were going to war and their journey was long.

Saul gave them instructions. He said that those who drank from it were not with him and those who drank just a small amount from the hollow of their hands were with him. When the army reached the river, they were tired and thirsty. Many of them rushed to drink the water. There were only a few who controlled their urge the hastily drink from the river.

Then when the army crossed over the river to confront the enemy, they became disheartened and uncertain of their victory because of the size of the army and the enormous stature of their champion fighter, Goliath. But there were a small group among the soliders who were sure of their victory, knowing that with Allah’s assistance all things were possible.

They said, “How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient.”1

In the beginning of the Prophet Muhammad, ﷺ, call. He and the body of the Muslims were few in number and found themselves being persecuted by the disbelievers of Makkah. But Allah supported them, protected them and provided for them. He said,

وَاذْكُرُوا إِذْ أَنتُمْ قَلِيلٌ مُّسْتَضْعَفُونَ فِي الْأَرْضِ تَخَافُونَ أَن يَتَخَطَّفَكُمُ النَّاسُ فَآوَاكُمْ وَأَيَّدَكُم بِنَصْرِهِ وَرَزَقَكُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ – 8:26

And remember when you were few and oppressed in the land, fearing that people might abduct you, but He sheltered you, supported you with His victory, and provided you with good things – that you might be grateful.

Allah praised the few that hold on to the rope of Allah.

It has been reported by Al Qurtubi in his tafseer that Umar Ibn Al Khattaab, May Allah be pleased with him, heard a man saying, “O Allah make me among the few.” Umar said, “What is this supplication?” The man said, “I refer to the statement of Allah, that says,

وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ – 34:13

‘And few of my servants are grateful.’

Umar said, “All of the people know better than you, O Umar!”

Also, there are a special group of believers called As-Sabiqoon (the forerunners), those who hasten in good deeds. Allah makes a point in telling us that from the earlier generations there will be many As-Sabiqoon but there will only be a few from the later generations.2

The temporary things in this dunya Allah regards as few. The dunya itself is small; mankind’s stay in it will be for a short period of time and the enjoyment in it likewise, in respects to the Hereafter.

Some people hold on to the temporary things of this life and give little preparation for the next. This is because he sees his time on this Earth as short and the things of this world being within his reach whereas, he sees the affairs of the Hereafter as being far away. However, the enjoyment that they experience in this life is a short time compared to eternity.3

Another thing on this Earth that is given out in portions is knowledge. Allah mentioned that the knowledge given to anyone in this world is little as compared to what is with Him of knowledge. Allah says,

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا – 17:85

And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, “The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind has not been given of knowledge except a little.”

So we pray Allaah SWT makes us among those special few.

As Salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuhu


  1. Surah 2:249
  2. Surah 56:13-14
  3. Surah 4:77


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