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Sura al-A'la

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This article is an introduction to the Sura al-A'la; to read its text see text:Sura al-A'la.
Sura al-A'la
al-Tariq← →al-Ghashiya
سوره اعلی.jpg
Sura Number 87
Juz' 30
Revelation
Revelation Number 8
Makki/Madani Makki
Information
Verse Count 19
Word Count 72
Letter Count 296

Sura al-Aʿlā (Arabic: سورة الأَعلی) is eighty seventh sura of the Qur'an and a Makki sura located in juz' thirty. The name of the sura is adopted from its first verse, meaning "the most Exalted". First verses of the sura call the Prophet (s) to glorify God and then mentions seven attributes for God and then speaks of humble believers and wretched disbelievers and mentions the causes of happiness and wretchedness of the two groups.

About the merits of recitation of this sura, it is narrated from the Prophet (s) that whoever recites this sura, God will reward him as many as ten rewards for each word He revealed to Abraham (a), Moses (a), and Muhammad (s).

Introduction

  • Naming

This sura is named "al-A'la" because it began with a glorification of God, the Exalted.[1] "A'la" means "most exalted and superior than anything."

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-A'la is a Makki sura, it is eighth sura of the Qur'an revealed to the Prophet (s). In the current order of compilation, this is eighty seventh sura of the Qur'an,[2] located in juz' thirty.

  • Number of Verses and other Features

Sura al-A'la has nineteen verses, seventy two words and 296 letters. It is among mufassalat suras (having several short verses). It is the seventh and the last sura of musabbihat (beginning with glorification of God).[3]

Content

Sura al-A'la has two parts:

  • The first part of the sura addresses the Prophet (s) and gives him orders about glorification of God and performing his mission. Also, seven attributes of God are mentioned in this part.
  • The second part speaks about humble believers and wretched disbelievers and mentions the causes of happiness and wretchedness of the two groups.[4]
Content of Sura al-A'la[5]
 
 
Truth of monotheistic mission of the Prophet (a)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First topic: verses 1-13
The Prophet's (a) duties in declaration of God's Unity
 
Second topic: verses 14-19
Reasons for the truth of the Prophet's (a) monotheistic call
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
First duty: verses 1-5
Glorification of God, the Exalted
 
First reason: verses 14-17
Salvation of monotheists
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Second duty: verses 6-13
Testimony of the books of prophets (a) about monotheism
 
Second reason: verses 18-19
Delivering the message of God's Unity to truth-seekers


Exegesis

The Prophet (s) and Not Forgetting the Qur'an

In this verse, God ensures the Prophet (s) not to worry about forgetting the verses, for the One who has sent them, will guard them.[6] In Tafsir al-mizan, 'Allama Tabataba'i wrote, "Iqra'" means "receiving recitation of the reciter in order to correct his recitation"; however, this is literal meaning of the word and in this verse, it means that God gave the Prophet (s) such a power to recite the Qur'an correctly and well, exactly the way it was revealed and without any alteration.[7]


Qur'an 87:14 by Muhammad Uzjai, "Felicitous is he who purifies himself"

Eid al-Fitr Prayer and Zakat al-Fitra

In Majma' al-bayan, it is mentioned that some have said that "tazkiya" and "salat" in verses fourteen and fifteen refer to paying Zakat al-Fitra and Eid al-Fitr prayer. This question might be raised that this sura is Makki and that time, there was no zakat or Eid prayer. It has been answered that the first verses of this sura might be revealed in Mecca and its final verses including verses fourteen and fifteen might be revealed in Medina.[8]

In Tafsir al-burhan, under the verse fourteen, al-Sayyid Hashim al-Bahrani wrote that it has been narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that fasting becomes complete with paying zakat al-fitra, the same way the prayer becomes complete with sending blessings upon the Prophet (a). So, anyone who fasts and does not give zakat al-fitra intentionally, his fasting is not accepted and anyone who performs prayer and does not send blessings upon the Prophet (a) and abandons it intentionally, his prayer is not accepted. God, the Almighty has prioritized zakat al-fitra over prayer and said, "Felicitous is he who purifies himself, (14) celebrates the Name of his Lord, and prays." (Qur'an 87: 14–15)[9]


Number of Prophets (a) and Divine Books

The last verse of the Sura al-A'la suggests that Prophets Abraham (a) and Moses (a) had divine books too. In a hadith, Abu Dhar narrated, "I asked the Prophet (s), 'how many prophets (a) were there?' He (s) answered, '124 thousand.' Then, he (a) said, 'O, Abu Dhar! Four of the Prophets (a) were Arab: Hud (a), Salih (a), Shu'ayb (a) and your prophet.' I asked, 'O, messenger of God, how many books God have sent?' He (s) said, '104 books; ten books upon Adam (a), fifty books upon Seth (a), 30 books upon Enoch who was Idris (a); and he (a) was the first person who wrote by pen, and 10 books upon Abraham (a), Torah upon Moses (a), the Gospel upon Jesus (a), Psalms upon David (a) and revealed al-Furqan (means Qur'an) upon the Prophet of Islam (s)."[10]

Famous Verses

God's Knowledge

It is mentioned in the interpretation of verse seven that the visible and the hidden are equal to God; because whatever visible and hidden are in His creation.[11] Mulla Sadra wrote that this verse proves the knowledge for God and negates any ignorance or defect about God.[12]

Merits of Recitation

In Majma' al-bayan, it is narrated from the Prophet (s) that whoever recites this sura, God will reward him as many as ten rewards for each words He revealed to Abraham (a) Moses (a) and Muhammad (s). Also, it is narrated from Imam Ali (a) that the Prophet (s) loved this sura.[13] It is narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that whoever recites Sura al-A'la in his obligatory prayers or his Daily Nawafil, on the Day of Judgment, he will be told that he can enter the Paradise from any of its doors if God wills.[14]

Notes

  1. Khurramshāhī, Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1263.
  2. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān, vol. 1, p. 166.
  3. Khurramshāhī, Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1263.
  4. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 380.
  5. 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.
  6. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 393.
  7. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 266.
  8. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 722.
  9. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 5, p. 637.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 405.
  11. Faḍl Allāh, Min waḥy al-Qurʾān, vol. 24, p. 209.
  12. Mullā Ṣadrā, Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 7, p. 376.
  13. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 717.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Barguzīda-yi tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 5, p. 475.

References

  • Baḥrānī, Sayyid Hāshim b. Sulaymān. Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Qom: Bunyād-i Biʿthat, 1416 AH.
  • Faḍl Allāh, Sayyid Muḥammad Ḥusayn al-. Min waḥy al-Qurʾān. Second edition. Beirut: Dār al-Milāk li-l-Ṭibāʿa wa l-Nashr, 1419 AH.
  • Khurramshāhī, Bahāʾ al-Dīn. Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān wa Qurʾān pazhūhī. Tehran: Dūstān-Nāhīd, 1377 Sh.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Barguzīda-yi tafsīr-i nimūna. Edited by Aḥmad ʿAlī Bābāyī. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1382 Sh.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1366 Sh.
  • Maʿrifat, Muḥammad Hādī. Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān. [n.p]: Markaz Chāp wa Nashr-i Sāzmān-i Tablīghāt, 1371 Sh.
  • Mullā Ṣadrā, Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm. Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Muḥammad Khājūy. Second edition. Qom: Intishārāt-i Bīdār, 1366 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Mūhammad Ḥusayn al-. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Second edition. Beirut: Muʾassisat al-Aʿlamī li-l-Maṭbūʿāt, 1974.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Hāshim Rasūlī & Yazdī Ṭabāṭabāyī. Third edition. Tehran: Intishārāt-i Nāṣir Khusru, 1372 Sh.