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Sura al-An'am

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Sura al-An'am
al-Ma'ida← →al-A'raf
سوره انعام.jpg
Sura Number 6
Juz' 7, 8
Revelation Number 55
Makki/Madani Makki
Verse Count 165
Word Count 3055
This article is an introduction to the Sura al-An'am; to read its text see text:Sura al-An'am.

Sūra al-An'am (Arabic: سورة الأنعام) is the sixth sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in seventh and eighth juz's thereof. It is called "al-An'am" (grazing livestock) because such livestock are mentioned in fifteen verses of the sura. Central themes of the sura are principles of religious beliefs, that is, monotheism, prophethood, and resurrection. The sura has a reference to a debate and dialogue between Abraham (a) and disbelievers over worshiping stars and the sun.

One of the well-known verses of the sura is its verse twenty, according to which People of the Book already knew the Prophet Muhammad (a)'s characteristics and features before his prophethood. Other well-known verses include al-Wizr Verse (or the Verse of Burden), according to which every person only bears his own burdens, and the verse 160 according to which God gives ten times of rewards for every good deed. In some verses of the sura, jurisprudential rulings of certain deeds are mentioned, including the forbiddance of murder, the forbiddance of cursing the disbelievers, the forbiddance of attributing falsities to God and the Prophet (s), and the forbiddance of earing the meat of an animal which was not slaughtered in the name of God.

According to hadiths from Ahl al-Bayt (a), this sura was revealed to the Prophet at once by seventy thousand exalting angels, and if one recites the sura, those angels will exalt on his behalf until the day of resurrection. Full recitation of Sura al-An'am in one sitting (or Khatm al-An'am) is a popular gathering in Iran, in which Sura al-An'am is fully recited with the intention of one's needs being fulfilled by God.


  • Naming

The sura is called "al-An'am" (grazing livestock) because fifteen verses of it (verses 136-150) talk about livestock. The word, "al-an'am," appears six times in the sura.

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-An'am is a Makki sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the fifty fifth sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the present order of compilation, it is the sixth sura, located in seventh and eighth juz's of the Qur'an.

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-An'am has 165 verses and 3055 words. With regard to size, it is one of the Sab' Tiwal (seven long) suras, which amount to over one juz' of the Qur'an. Sura al-An'am is one of the Jami'i al-nauzul (suddenly revealed) suras, because according to hadiths, all of its verses were revealed to the Prophet (s) all at once. Also, it counts as one of the Hamidat suras because it opens with the praise (hamd) of God.


According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, the main theme of this sura consists in, just like other Makki suras, the principles of religious beliefs, that is, monotheism, prophethood, and resurrection. The sura particularly highlights the worship of God alone. According to al-Mizan, the majority of its verses suggest arguments against polytheists regarding monotheism, prophethood, and resurrection. The sura also refers to some jurisprudential rulings, particularly religiously forbidden things.

Content of Sura al-An'am[1]
Reply to objections by disbelievers about the messengership of the Prophet of Islam
Introduction: verses: 1-7
Obstinacy of disbelievers towards God’s religion
First objection: verses 8-36
why do we not see the angel who descends on the Prophet?
Second objection: verses 37-90
Why does God not send down a sign for the truthfulness of the Prophet?
Third objection: verses 91-108
God does not reveal any books
Fourth objection: verses 109-123
If the Prophet brings the miracle we ask, we will believe in him
Fifth objection: verses 124-135
What are not Quranic verses revealed to us?
Sixth objection: verses 136-147
God's religion is the same as heresies common among polytheists
Seventh objection: verses 148-160
God wanted us to be polytheists and forbid foods
Conclusion: verses 161-165
The rightfulness of the monotheistic religion of the Prophet of Islam
First reply: verse 8
If all humans see angels, then resurrection will come
First reply: verses 37-46
God has the power to send down any sign
First reply: verses 91-92
God has revealed the Torah and the Qur'an
First reply: verse 109-113
Whatever miracles the Prophet brings, polytheists will not believe in him
First reply: verse 124
The position of messengership demands certain qualifications
verses 136-139
Instances of heresies by polytheists in forbiddance of certain foods
First reply: verses 148-149
God does not guide or misguide anyone by force
First subject-matter: verse 161
The Prophet's (s) religion is the same as Abraham's (a) religion
Second reply: verse 9
If God send an angle, she would imagin in the form of human
Second reply: verses 47-49
The sign of the truthfulness of the Prophet (s) is the punishment of his deniers
Second reply: verse 93
This is a falsity attributed to God
Second reply: verses 114-115
With the Qur'an, there is no need for any other miracle
Second reply: verses 125-127
Faithless people have vicious souls
First reply: verses 140-144
God has not prohibited foods
Second reply: verse 150
If you say that God has forbidden something, then bring your evidence
Second subject-matter: verses 162-163
There is no polytheism in the Prophet's religion
Third reply: verse 10
You want to insult the Prophet (s)
Third reply: verse 50
Miracles are not up to the Prophet
Third reply: verses 94-108
The arranger of the world sends books to guide humans
Third reply: verses 116-117
Requests of the misguided should not be taken seriously
Third reply: verses 128-130
You follow the devils
Second reply: verses 145-147
Forbidden foods in God’s religion have been specified
Third reply: verses 151-152
What is forbidden in God's religion is specified
Third subject-matter: verses 164-165
There is no reason for the Prophet's (s) tendency to polytheism
Fourth reply: verses 12-13
You want to deny the resurrection
Fourth reply: verses 51-56
The sign of the truthfulness of the Prophet is not the rejection of poor believers
Fourth reply: verses 118-123
If you believe divine miracles, then act upon religious rulings
Fourth reply: verses 131-134
God is aware of your actions
Fourth reply: verses 153-155
Only follow the religion of the Prophet of Islam
Fifth reply: verses 19-20
you want to disobey God's command
Fifth reply: verse 57
The Qur'an is the best sign and miracle
Fifth reply: verse 135
Transgressors never achieve happiness
Fifth reply: verses 156-157
With the revelation of the Qur'an, you have received the ultimatum
Sixth reply: verses 19-20
God testifies for the truthfulness of the Prophet
Sixth reply: verses 58-59
If your requested miracle is brought, then you will all be destroyed
Sixth reply: verses 158-160
Believe in Islam before the divine punishment arrives
Conclusion: verses 21-36
Words of disbelievers are out of obstinacy, rather than logic
Seventh reply: verses 60-90
Signs of monotheism are evidence for the truthfulness of the Prophet (s)

Narrations and Stories

Well-Known Verses

Verse 20

This verse is repeated in the verse 146 of Qur'an 2 as well. It is a reply to polytheists who claimed that People of the Book never testify for the rightfulness of the Prophet (s). In this verse, the Qur'an implies that not only were People of the Book aware of the emergence and the call of the Prophet (s), but were also aware of his characteristics, details, and exact signs, just as 'Abd Allah b. Salam, a Jewish scholar who converted to Islam, was quoted as saying about the Prophet (s) that: "I know him better than I know my child."

Verse 59

"Moist" and "dry" in the verse are said to be metaphors of everything, implying a generality. There is a disagreement among exegetes as to what "clear record [or book]" means. According to al-Mizan, the clear book whatever it is does not consist in this world, which includes creatures. Instead, it is a book in which the programs of all creatures are recorded, is prior to those creatures, and will survive after their destruction. According to Tafsir-i nimuna, most probably the "clear book" seems to refer to the knowledge of God; that is to say, all creatures are recorded in God's infinite knowledge. The interpretation of the "clear book" as the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfuz) can also match this latter exegesis, since the Preserved Tablet is probably identical to God's knowledge.

Verse 160

Many Shiite and Sunni hadiths are cited concerning this verse. According to some hadiths, when the verse, "Whoever comes [at Judgement] with a good deed will have better than it," was revealed, the Prophet (s) asked God for more reward. In response, this verse was revealed: "Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof." Once again, the Prophet asked for more rewards from God. Then the following verse was revealed: "Who is it that would loan Allah a goodly loan so He may multiply it for him many times over?"

Verse 164

According to exegetes, this verse displays God's justice in the punishment of wrongdoers, saying that no one will be punished for someone else's sins. According to Quranic verses 37-38 of Qur'an 53, the same ruling existed in other religions as well. As to the relation between this verse and verse 25 of Qur'an 16, it is said that the reason why misleaders bear part of the burden of sins is that they have misled others, and so they indeed bear the burden of their own sins.

Jurisprudential Verses

More than fifteen verses of Sura al-An'am have been considered as jurisprudential verses, including verse twenty first which allegedly implies the forbiddance of attributing falsity to God, and verse seventy two which commands the saying of prayers, and thus, implies the obligation of saying the prayer. Verse 108 is said to imply the forbiddance of cursing the disbelievers. Verse 121 prohibits the eating of the meat of an animal which is not slaughtered in the name of God; verse 141 states the ruling of zakat, and verse 151 forbids murder. Moreover, verses 162-163 are said to imply the forbiddance of pretense in worships.

Gathering of Khatm al-An'am

In Iran, there are gatherings in people's homes, in which people recite the whole of Sura al-An'am with the intention of their needs being fulfilled by God. They sometimes recite certain supplications and dhikrs in intervals between recitations of verses of Sura al-An'am as well. These gatherings are ornamented with a food service known as "sufra khatm-i an'am."

Merits and Benefits

In hadiths, a high value is assigned to Sura al-An'am. In Nur al-Thaqalayn, Imam al-Rida (a) is quoted as saying that Sura al-An'am was revealed all at once by seventy thousand angels who reiterated the exaltation and tahlil (there is no might, nor power except in Allah) and takbir (God is the Greatest). If one recites this sura, those angels will exalt God on his behalf until the day of resurrection. A similar hadith was cited from the Prophet (s) as well.

Moreover, in Thawab al-a'mal, Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying that Sura al-An'am was revealed to Muhammad (s) all at once by seventy thousand angels. So, celebrate it and honor it. For God's greatest name appears in seventy places of this sura, and if people knew what lies within this sura, they never abandoned its recitation.


  1. 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.