Sūra (Arabic: سُورَة), in technical usage, means a part of the Holy Qur'an that has a coherent content and has a beginning and an ending. The Qur'an has 114 suras beginning with Sura al-Hamd and ending with Sura al-Nas. Suras of the Qur'an, except for Sura al-Tawba, begin with "bism Allah" (English: "In the name of Allah the All-beneficent the All-merciful") phrase. The word "sura" is used 8 times in singular form and 1 time in plural. There's a disagreement about the order of suras being "tawqifi" (specified by Allah) or "ijtihadi" (by judgment of the companions).
"Sura" literally means a level and rank, or a part and chapter of something. In technical usage, sura means a part of the Qur'an that has a coherent content and has a beginning and an ending.
The chapters of the Qur'an are named sura because they are like a "sur" (Arabic: "سور", wall), separates each one of them from other chapters; or because it contains all the verses and words.
The word "sura" is used 8 times in singular form and 1 time in plural form (Arabic: "سُوَر").
Suras of the Qur'an, except for Sura al-Tawba, begin with the phrase "bism Allah" ("In the name of Allah the All-beneficent the All-merciful").
|1||Al-Fatiha (the Opening)||7||5||Makki|
|2||Al-Baqara (the Cow)||286||87||Madani|
|3||Al 'Imaran (the Family of 'Imran)||200||89||Madani|
|5||Al-Ma'ida (the Table)||120||112||Madani|
|7||Al-A'raf (the Elevations)||206||39||Makki|
|8||Al-Anfal (the Spoils)||75||88||Madani|
|16||Al-Nahl (the Bee)||128||70||Makki|
|17||Al-Isra' (the Night Journey)||111||50||Makki|
|18||Al-Kahf (the Cave)||110||69||Makki|
|21||Al-Anbiya (the Prophets)||112||73||Makki|
|22||Al-Hajj (the Pilgrimage)||78||103||Madani|
|23||Al-Mu'minun (the Faithful)||118||74||Makki|
|24||Al-Nur (the Light)||64||102||Madani|
|25||Al-Furqan (the Criterion)||77||42||Makki|
|26||Al-Shu'ara (the Poets)||227||47||Makki|
|27||Al-Naml (the Ants)||93||48||Makki|
|28||Al-Qasas (the Story)||88||49||Makki|
|29||Al-'Ankabut (the Spider)||69||85||Makki|
|30||Al-Rum (the Byzantines)||60||84||Makki|
|33||Al-Ahzab (the Confederates)||73||90||Madani|
|35||Fatir (the Originator)||45||43||Makki|
|37||Al-Saffat (the Ranged Ones)||182||56||Makki|
|39||Al-Zamar (the Throngs)||75||59||Makki|
|40||Al-Ghafir (the Forgiver)||85||60||Makki|
|51||Al-Dhariyat (the Scatterers)||60||67||Makki|
|52||Al-Tur (the Mount)||49||76||Makki|
|53||Al-Najm (the Star)||62||23||Makki|
|54||Al-Qamar (the Moon)||55||37||Makki|
|55||Al-Rahman (the All-beneficent)||78||97||Madani|
|58||Al-Mujadila (the Pleader)||22||105||Madani|
|59||Al-Hashr (the Banishment)||24||101||Madani|
|60||Al-Mumtahana (the Tested Woman)||13||91||Madani|
|63||Al-Munafiqun (the Hypocrites)||11||104||Madani|
|66||Al-Tahrim (the Forbidding)||12||107||Madani|
|68||Al-Qalam (the Pen)||52||2||Makki|
|69||Al-Haqqa (the Inevitable)||52||78||Makki|
|70||Al-Ma'arij (Lofty Stations)||44||79||Makki|
|72||Al-Jinn (the Jinn)||28||40||Makki|
|77||Al-Mursalat (the Emissaries)||50||33||Makki|
|78||Al-Naba' (the Tiding)||40||80||Makki|
|79||Al-Nazi'at (the Wrestlers)||46||81||Makki|
|80||'Abasa (He Frowned)||42||24||Makki|
|81||Al-Takwir (the Winding Up)||29||7||Makki|
|82||Al-Infitar (the Rending)||19||82||Makki|
|83||Al-Mutaffifin (the Defrauding)||36||86||Makki|
|84||Al-Inshiqaq (the Splitting)||25||83||Makki|
|85||Al-Buruj (the Houses)||22||27||Makki|
|86||Al-Tariq (the Nightly Visitor)||17||36||Makki|
|87||Al-A'la (the Most Exalted)||19||8||Makki|
|88||Al-Ghashiya (the Enveloper)||26||68||Makki|
|89||Al-Fajr (the Dawn)||30||10||Makki|
|90||Al-Balad (the City)||20||35||Makki|
|91||Al-Shams (the Sun)||15||26||Makki|
|92||Al-Layl (the Night)||21||9||Makki|
|93||Al-Duha (the Morning Brightness)||11||11||Makki|
|95||Al-Tin (the Fig)||8||28||Makki|
|96||Al-'Alaq (Clinging Mass)||19||1||Makki|
|97||Al-Qadr (the Ordainment)||5||25||Makki|
|98||Al-Bayyina (the Proof)||8||100||Madani|
|99||Al-Zalzala (the Quake)||8||93||Madani|
|100||Al-'Adiyat (the Chargers)||11||14||Makki|
|101||Al-Qari'a (the Catasrophe)||11||30||Makki|
|104||Al-Humaza (the Scandal-monger)||9||32||Makki|
|105||Al-Fil (the Elephant)||5||19||Makki|
|109||Al-Kafirun (the Faithless)||6||18||Makki|
|110||Al-Nasr (the Help)||3||114||Madani|
|111||Al-Masad (Palm Fibre)||5||6||Makki|
According to Time of Revelation
Suras of the Qur'an, according to the time of revelation, are divided into two general categories:
- Makki: According to the most common definition, suras which are revealed before the emigration of the Prophet (s) to Medina (in which ever place it is revealed), are Makki.
- Madani: Suras which were revealed after the emigration are called Madani.
There are two other definitions for Makki and Madani suras:
- Suras which were revealed in Mecca and its outskirts, even after the emigration, are Makki; and suras which were revealed in Medina and its outskirts, are Madani.
- The suras in which the people of Mecca are addressed are Makki and in which the people of Medina are addressed are Madani.
According to Length
The suras of the Qur'an are categorized according to the count and length of verses:
- Al-Sab' al-Tiwal (the seven longs): this suras are the longest suras in the Qur'an, namely: al-Baqara, Al 'Imran, al-Nisa', al-Ma'ida, al-An'am, al-A'raf, and Yunus.
- Al-Mi'un: the suras which have more than 100 verses and are not as long as al-Sab' al-Tiwal: al-Anfal, al-Tawba, al-Nahl, Hud, Yusuf, al-Kahf, al-Isra', al-Anbiya', TaHa, al-Mu'minun, al-Shu'ara', and al-Saffat.
- Al-Mathani (oft-repeated): near 20 suras which have less than 100 verses, like: al-Qasas, al-Naml, al-'Ankabut, YaSin, and Sad.
- Al-Mufassal (separated): these are named because they are short and are separated with "bism Allah".
Count of Suras
The number of suras in the existing Qur'an is 114. According to some narrations from Ahl al-Bayt (a), Sura al-Duha and Sura al-Sharh are considered as one sura, and also al-Fil and Quraysh, so the count of suras would become 112. There are some historical reports about Mushafs of some of the companions which have more or less suras but the current Qur'an, which is collected in the time of the rule of 'Uthman, has 114 suras and is verified by Imam 'Ali (a) and other Imams.
Each sura of the Qur'an is named after the beginning words, or after the content and the massage of the sura; so the name of each sura is in accordance to its content, as Sura al-Baqara (the Cow) is named after the mention of the cow which Banu Isra'il had been commanded to slay (2:67), or Sura al-Nisa' (Women) is named because some rulings about women is mentioned in it.
There's a disagreement about the names of suras being specified by God (being tawqifi) or is specified by the companions (ijtihadi). Al-Suyuti, al-Zarkashi, and some other Qur'an researchers consider it tawqifi.
Jawadi Amuli doesn't accept the names of suras being tawqifi, and in contrast considers the common names of suras as names given to them by people and then the name became prevalent. He considers the usage of the names in some hadiths of Ahl al-Bayt because of the recognition of the sura with the name. He says: it's unlikely that a sura containing great knowledge, deep wisdom, and a lot of rulings being named after a cow; or a sura which contain 40 proofs for the unity of God being named after the cattle; or a sura with deep knowledge and the stories of many of the Prophets being named after the ants.
Order of Revelation
The Qur'an was gradually revealed to the Prophet (s), in the length of 23 years (gradual revelation). According to the historical records, Imam 'Ali (a) was the first one to collect the Qur'an after the demise of the Prophet (s). The suras in the collected Qur'an (Mushaf of Imam 'Ali (a)) was ordered according to the order of revelation. After the completion of the work, he loaded it on a camel (due to its bulk) and brought it to the companions, but they didn't accept it and said that they didn't need it, so Imam 'Ali (a) hid it and after that no one saw the mushaf. Shi'a believes that other Imams had inherited the mushaf and now it is in the possession of Imam al-Mahdi (aj). According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Imam 'Ali (a) had ordered the Qur'an according to the order of revelation and placed Makki suras before Madani suras and al-Mansukh before al-Nasikh.
There's a disagreement about the order of suras being tawqifi (specified by Allah) or ijtihadi (by the judgment of the companions); some of the Qur'an researchers, like al-Suyuti, say: the existing order of suras is tawqifi and is specified by Allah and the Prophet (s) commanded to order suras as they are.
Some other considered the order of suras as ijtihadi and being ordered by the judgment of the companions who collected the Qur'an. The third opinion is that the order of suras are a mix of being tawqifi and ijtihadi; meaning that when there was a command from the Prophet (s) about the place of a sura it was obeyed, and when there wasn't, the suras were ordered by the companions who collected the Qur'an.
First Revealed Sura
About the first sura revealed there is three opinions:
- The first sura revealed to the Prophet (s) is Sura al-'Alaq, which was revealed in the beginning of Bi'tha.
- The first sura was al-Muddaththir, it is narrated from Umm Salama: "I asked Jabir b. 'Abd Allah al-Ansari about the first verse or sura revealed first and he said: 'al-Muddaththir'."
- Sura al-Fatiha (the beginning) is the first sura revealed.
Some Qur'an researchers have combined the three opinions: the 3 or 5 first verses of Sura al-'Alaq was revealed in the beginning of Bi'tha, shortly after that, some verses of the beginning of Sura al-Muddaththir was revealed, and the first complete sura revealed to the Prophet (s) was Sura al-Hamd.
Last Sura Revealed
According to Shi'a hadiths, the last complete sura was Sura al-Nasr. When the sura was revealed, the Prophet (s) recited it to the companions and all became glad except for al-'Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (s), who became very sad and said: "I think the sura announces the end of your mission", the Prophet (s) said: "you think right"; and the Prophet (s) demised two years later.
As the Sura al-Nasr is revealed after the Conquest of Mecca in 8/629, and Sura al-Tawba is revealed one year later, some combined the two facts as the last complete sura revealed is Sura al-Nasr, and Sura al-Tawba is considered the last sura because its beginning verses are revealed later, although the very last verse revealed is the Ikmal verse (see: First and Last_Verses)
- The material for writing this article is mainly taken from سوره in Farsi WikiShia.