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Sura al-Shu'ara'

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Sura al-Shu'ara'
al-Furqan← →al-Naml
سوره شعرا.jpg
Sura Number 26
Juz' 19
Revelation
Revelation Number 47
Makki/Madani Makki
Information
Verse Count 227
Word Count 1223
Letter Count 5630
This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Shu'ara'; to read its text see text:Sura al-Shu'ara'.

Sūra al-Shu'arā' (Arabic: سورة الشعراء) is the twenty sixth sura and a Makki sura, located in the nineteenth juz' of the Qur'an. It was called "Shu'ara'" (poets) because it talks about poets in verses 224 to 226. Sura al-Shu'ara' is concerned with the movement of prophets, from Noah (a) to Muhammad (s), reminds the fate of their enemies, and emphasizes on principles of beliefs, monotheism, resurrection, the call of the prophets, and the importance of the Qur'an. The main goal of the sura is said to be a consolation of the Prophet (s) in face of his people's rebuttals and slanders.

One well-known verse of Sura al-Shu'ara' is the Verse of Indhar, in which God asks the Prophet (s) to call his close relatives to Islam. As to the virtue of the recitation of this sura, there is a hadith according to which if one recites Sura al-Shu'ara', then he shall be rewarded for anyone who believed in, and anyone who denied, Noah (a), Hud (a), Shu'ayb (a), Salih (a), Abraham (a), Jesus (a), and Muhammad (s).

Introduction

  • Naming

The sura is called "al-Shu'ara'" (poets) because in its closing verses (224-226) it talks about poets. It is also called "Ta-Sin-Mim" because it opens with these disjoined letters.[1] It is also called "Sura al-Jami'a" (comprehensive) because it comprehensively covers a variety of issues, stories of a number of prophets and past nations.[2]

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-Shu'ara' is a Makki sura, and in the order of revelation, it is the forty seventh sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the traditional order of compilation, it is the twenty sixth sura, located in the nineteenth juz' of the Qur'an.[3]

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-Shu'ara' has 227 verses, 1223 words, and 5630 letters. As to its volume, it counts as one of Mathani and intermediate suras, occupying a half juz' of the Qur'an.[4] Sura al-Shu'ara' is the twelfth sura among Muqatta'at suras (those opening with disjoined letters),.[5] and since it opens with "Ta-Sin-Mim" it counts as one of Tawasin suras.[6]

After Qur'an 2, Sura al-Shu'ara' has the highest number of verses, although the number of its letters is smaller than many other Quranic suras.[7]

Contents

'Allama Tabataba'i believes that the main goal of the sura is to console the Prophet (s) over his people's rebuttals and slanders. For the sura warns the deniers of the Prophet (s) by way of recounting the stories of earlier prophets and the fate of their enemies.[8] The purposes of the sura are said to consist in monotheism, fear of the afterlife, confirmation of the revelation for Muhammad (s) and his worldwide mission, call to piety, the bad fate of those who opposed the movement of the prophets, the logic of tyranny, that every reform begins from one’s own self, and a plan for salvation and victory.[9]

The tone of the sura is said to be in harmony with other Makki suras, which mainly emphasize on principles of beliefs, monotheism, resurrection, the call of prophets, and the importance of the Qur'an.[10]

In Tafsir-i Nimuna, contents of Sura al-Shu'ara' are divided into three parts:

  • First part: the greatness of the Qur'an, consolation of the Prophet (s) over the obstinacy of the polytheists, references to signs of monotheism, and divine attributes;
  • Second part: a recount of parts of the fate and struggles of prophets such as Noah (a), Abraham (a), Lot (a), Hud (a), Salih (a), Shu'ayb (a), and particularly Moses (a), and references to arguments by deniers of prophets, and their similarity to arguments presented by deniers of the Prophet of Islam, and finally, the fate of the deniers of past prophets;
  • Third part: a conclusion of earlier parts, recommendation of the Prophet (s) about how to call people to Islam and how to treat believers, consolation of the Prophet (s), and good tidings for believers.[11]

• Content: obstinate, illogical people cannot be guided 1. First speech: consolation of the Prophet for the obstinacy of unbelievers a. First subject-matter: the Prophet’s sadness because unbelievers do not believe b. Second subject-matter: the denial of all divine verses by obstinate unbelievers 2. Unbelievers not taking a lesson from fates of the enemies of prophets a. First instance: the fate of the Pharaoh b. The fate of the enemies of Abraham c. the fate of the enemies of Noah d. the fate of the enmity people of 'Ad towards Hud e. the fate of the enmity of people of Thamud towards Salih f. the fate of people of Lot g. the fate of the enemies of Shu'ayb 3. Reasons for the truthfulness of the Qur'an and wrongness of the obstinacy of unbelievers a. First reason: the revelation of the Qur'an with an eloquent clear language b. Evidence of earlier Scriptures for the truthfulness of the Qur'an c. The Qur'an is not the world of evil jinns d. The Qur'an is not poetry or fantasy

Historical Stories and Narratives

Sura al-Shu'ara' narrates parts of stories of a number of prophets and how their people reacted to their calls:

  • Moses's mission, dialogue with the Pharaoh, fight with magicians, immigration of the Children of Israel together with Moses (a) and their passage through the sea, the drowning of the followers of the Pharaoh. (verses 10-68)
  • Abraham's dialogue with Azar and his people, asking for God's forgiveness for Azar. (verses 69-89)
  • Noah's dialogue with his people, the drowning of his people, and the rescue of Noah (a) and his companions. (verses 105-120)
  • Hud's dialogue with people of 'Ad, punishment of people of 'Ad. (verses 123-140)
  • Lot's dialogue with his people, punishment of people of Lot (a). (verses 160-176)

Occasions of Revelations of Some Verses

As to the occasion of the revelation of verses 224 to 227 of Sura al-Shu'ara', it is said that in the period of the Prophet (s), two people parodied each other with poems and some ignorant people followed their lead. Then, the verse was revealed: "as for the poets, the perverse follow them." When the verse was revealed, 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha, Ka'b b. Malik, and Hassan b. Thabit went to the Prophet (s) and said: "God knew that we were poets, and the revelation of this verse would destroy us." After the conversation, verse 227 was revealed: “Barring those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and remember Allah much often…"[12]

Well-Known Verses

Some verses of Sura al-Shu'ara' are well-known, including the Verse of Indhar, verses featuring Abraham's supplications (83-89), and the verse 215 in which the Prophet (s) is told to practice humbleness towards believers.

Supplications of Abraham

Verses 83-89 of Sura al-Shu'ara' consists of Quranic supplications as quoted from Abraham (a). The supplications follow reminders of God's blessings mentioned in previous verses, as a result of which Abraham (a) had to express his need to God[13] so as to show to idol worshipers that they should ask God for whatever they want in this world and the next, and this is a symbol of God's absolute lordship.[14]

In these supplications, Abraham (a) asks God for knowledge, accompaniment of the virtuous, being remembered by future generations, good fate, eternal heaven, forgiveness of the sins of his parents, and not being disgraced on the day of resurrection.[15]

Verses 88 and 89 of Sura al-Shu'ara' feature in Imam 'Ali's supplication in the Mosque of Kufa, and thus, they count as well-known verses of the sura.[16]

The Verse Indhar or Warning (214)

Main article: Verse of Indhar

When the Verse of Indhar was revealed, the Prophet (s) was ordered to call his close relatives to Islam and warn them. According to Shiite exegeses and some Sunni exegeses, the Prophet (s) invited forty people from his relatives to his house, and then, asked them to convert to Islam, saying: "he who believes will be his successor." In the meeting, only 'Ali (a) believed in him.[17] Some hadiths in Shi'a and Sunni books are about this verse, including Hadith Yawm al-Dar.[18] Shi'as appeal to the hadith to establish the truthfulness of their denomination.[19]

'Allama Tabataba'i takes the Prophet's prohibition of polytheism in the previous verse and his warning of his relatives in this verse as implying that there is no exception in religious invitation.[20]

The Verse of Lowering the Wing, or Khafd al-Janah (215)

In this verse, God orders the Prophet (s) to practice humbleness towards believers who obey him. The metaphorical phrase, "lowering the wing" for believers, implies kindness and affection, just as birds lower their wings for their babies. Thus, the Prophet (s) protects his followers against possible incidents and against divisions.[21]

Such an affectionate phrase is said to moderate the warning stated in the previous verse, because if a warning is issued for purposes of training, there should immediately be an emphasis on kindness and affection, so that a proper combination is provided.[22]

Merits and Benefits

As to the virtue of the recitation of this sura, the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying: if one recites Sura al-Shu'ara', then he shall be rewarded for anyone who believed in, and anyone who denied, Noah (a), Hud (a), Shu'ayb (a), Salih (a), Abraham (a), Jesus (a), and Muhammad (s).[23]


Notes

  1. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Shuʾrā," p. 1244.
  2. Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi Shuʾrā," p. 744
  3. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm Qurʾān, p. 166.
  4. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Shuʾrā," p. 1244.
  5. Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi Shuʾrā," p. 744
  6. Rāmyār, Tārīkh-i Qur'ān, p. 597.
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 180.
  8. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 249.
  9. Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi Shuʾrā," p. 744.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 180.
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 179-180.
  12. 'Ināya, Asbāb al-nuzūl al-Qur'ānī, p. 297-298.
  13. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 285.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 260.
  15. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 260-264.
  16. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 97, p. 419.
  17. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 367; Fakhr Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 24, p. 536; Mawlāyīnīā wa Mu'minī, Tafsīr taṭbīqī āya-yi indhār az nigāh-i farīqayn, p. 160 and 161.
  18. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol. 2, p. 24; Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-umam wa al-mulūk, vol. 2, p. 279; Sayyid b. Tāwūs, al-Tarā'if, vol. 1, p. 21; Haskānī, Shawāhid al-tanzīl, vol. 1, p. 543.
  19. Mawlāyīnīā wa Mu'minī, Tafsīr taṭbīqī āya-yi indhār az nigāh-i farīqayn, p. 143.
  20. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 228-229.
  21. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 329; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 368.
  22. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 368-369.
  23. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 286.

References

  • Qurʾān-i Karīm. Translated by Muḥammad Mahdī Fūlādwand. Tehran: Dār al-Qurʾān al-Karīm, 1376 Sh./1418 AH.
  • Khāmagar, Muḥammad, Sākhtār-i sūrahā-yi Qur'ān-i karīm, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangī-yi Qur'ān wa 'Itrat-i Nūr al-Thaqalayn. Qom: Nashr-i Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.
  • Khurramshāhī, Qawām al-Dīn. "Sūra-yi Shu'ara'" In Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān wa Qurʾān pazhūhī. Tehran: Dūstān-Nāhīd, 1377 Sh.
  • Rāmyār, Maḥmūd. Tārikh-i Qur'ān. Tehran: Intishārāt Amīr Kabīr, 1387 Sh.
  • Ṣadūq, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-. Thawāb al-aʿmāl wa ʿiqāb al-aʿmāl. Qom: Dār al-Sharīf al-Raḍī, 1406 AH.
  • Ṣafawī, Salmān. "Sūra-yi Shu'ara'" In Dānishnāma-yi Muʿāṣir-i Qurʾān-i Karīm. Qom: Intishārāt-i Salmān Azāda, 1396 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Muḥammad Ḥusayn. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1390 AH.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Muḥammad Jawād Balāghī. Tehran: Nāṣir Khusru, 1372 Sh.
  • 'Ināya, Ghāzī Ḥusayn. Asbāb al-nuzūl al-Qur'ānī, Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1411 AH.
  • Maʿrifat, Muḥammad Hādī. Āmūzish-i ʿulūm Qurʾān. Markaz-i Chāp wa Nashr-i Sāzmān-i Tablīghāt-i Islāmī, [n.p], 1371 Sh.