The following is from a work-in-progress called The Qur'an: a Book Report, in which I read each surah of the Qur'an and write about what I learn.
This is the last surah of the Qur’an! As I read it, I feel like I’ve just completed a marathon. It has taken me nearly a year to read and write my book report on the holy book of Islam, the religion of 1.5 billion fellow human beings worldwide. Put another way, 1 in 5 people on planet earth are Muslim.
The final surah is quite brief—six short verses. Like the previous surah, the one is also recited as an invocation/prayer against evil: “I seek refuge with the Lord of people, the Controller [or king] of people, the God of people, against the harm of the slinking whisperer—who whispers into the hearts of people—whether they be jinn or people.”
From a literary standpoint, this surah is notable for its repetition of the word “people.” As much as it is about God, the Qur’an (like every other major religious text) is also about people, with all their complexity, aspirations, problems, questions, dreams. Ultimately, religion is about people and their attempt to understand and engage meaningfully with this big, mysterious, painful, and wonderful world.