Sūra al-Anbīyā' (Arabic: سورة الأنبياء) is twenty first sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in juz' seventeen. Naming of this sura as al-Anbiya' is due to mentioning the names of sixteen prophets in this sura. Some of the primary topics in Sura al-Anbiya' are Unity of God, prophethood, the hereafter and removing people's ignorance.
Some of the famous verses of this sura are verses eighty seven and eighty eight of this sura which are known as the verse of Ghufayla prayer or Al-Yunusiyya Dhikr and verse 105 which suggests inheritance of the earth by the righteous. About the merits of this sura, it is mentioned that whoever recites this sura, God will be easy on him in reckoning his deeds, will forgive him, and all the prophets whose names are mentioned in the Qur'an will send praise to him.
Of twenty five prophets whose names are mentioned in the Qur'an, sixteen of them are mentioned in this sura; therefore, this sura is named as al-Anbiya'. The prophets whose names are mentioned in this sura are: Prophets Moses (a), Aaron (a), Lot (a), Isaac (a), Jacob (a), Noah (a), David (a), Solomon (a), Ayyub (a), Isma'il (a), Idris (a), Dhu l-Kifl (a), Yunus (a) (Dhu-nnun), Zakaria (a) and Yahya (a). In addition to these, the Prophet of Islam (s) and Prophet Jesus (a) are mentioned in this sura, but without mentioning their names.
- Order and Place of Revelation
Sura al-Anbiya' was seventy third sura revealed to the Prophet (s) in Mecca about twelve years after the beginning of his mission before his immigration to Medina. This sura is twenty first sura of the Qur'an located in juz' seventeen.
The general content of this sura is revealed in two general sections of beliefs and historical stories. In beliefs, the goal of this sura is reminding people about their ignorance toward the hereafter, the revelation and the Prophet's (s) mission; therefore, in the first verses of this sura, the issues of the hereafter, general prophethood, prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Qur'an are mentioned and then it discusses the arguments for proving the Unity of God, purposefulness of the world and the power of God in actualization of the hereafter. In historical stories, it discusses the ignorance of people about the orders of the prophets (a), not accepting their warnings and the destruction they were inflicted with.
Major topics in Sura al-Anbiya' can be listed as below:
- The topic of prophethood as the major topic of the sura, unity of God and the hereafter
- Proximity of the Day of Judgment and people's ignorance about it
- Mocking prophets and the Prophet of Islam (s) and calling him poet and speaking nonsense by disbelievers
- Mentioning the brief story of some prophets to approve the discussion and reject the claims of disbelievers
- Returning to the discussion about the Day of Judgment, the punishment of wrongdoers and reward of the God-wary
- Inheriting the earth by the righteous servants of God and good destiny of the God-wary
- Victory of the truth over falsehood, monotheism over polytheism and the armies of justice over the army of Satan
- The reason for disbelievers' turning away from prophethood
- Establishing proofs for monotheism
Historical Stories and Narrations
- Calumniating the Qur'an for being confused, valuelessly poetic and having magic nature in verses 3-5
- Brief story of destruction of people of some cities because of their ignorance and rejection of the warning of prophets in verses 11 to 15
- Story of Abraham (a) and his conversation with his father and people, breaking the idols and throwing him into the fire in verses 51-72
- Mission of Lot (a) and his rescue from the troubles of his people in verses 73-75
- Rescuing Noah (a) and drowning of his people in verses 76-77
- Judgment of David (a) and Solomon (a), David's armor making, Solomon's control of the wind and sea-diving of daemons for Solomon (a) in verses 78-82
- Yunus (a)'s leaving of his people and the acceptance of his supplication in verses 87-88
- Mary (a)'s pregnancy in verse 91
Occasion of Revelation for Verses 98 to 101
It is transmitted from Ibn Abbas that when the verse ninety eight of Sura al-Anbiya' which calls polytheists and theirs gods, the firewood of the hell, was revealed, people of Quraysh were severely shocked and said, "do you insult our gods?" then, Ibn al-Zab'ari arrived. When he was informed about the revelation of this verse, told Quraysh, "Call Muhammad to me!" When they brought the Prophet (s) to him, he asked the Prophet (s), "O Muhammad! Is this verse specific to our gods or includes all deities other than Allah?" the Prophet (s) answered, "It includes all deities other than Allah." Ibn al-Zab'ari said, "I swear to the God of the Ka'ba you are defeated! Don't you believe that the angels, Jesus (a) and Uzayr (a) are good servants of God? Then, you must believe that Banu Malih who worship angels and those who worship Jesus (a) or Uzayr (a) will be the firewood of the hell!" Then, those from Mecca cheered and God revealed verse 101 in answer to them, saying that "those to whom there has gone beforehand [the promise of] the best reward from Us will be kept away from it [the fire]."
Rejecting Different Gods
|— Qur'an, 21:22|
In this verse, the argument of demonstration per impossible is used to prove the Oneness of God. This verse and similar verses of Qur'an 43 reject the existence of other gods using the same method. Such an argumentation is also transmitted from Infallible Imams (a) as well.
Verse of Ghufayla Prayer
|— Qur'an, 21:87-88|
Verses eighty seven and eighty eight of this sura are recited in first rak'a of Ghufayla prayer after Qur'an 1 and refer to the story of Prophet Yunus (a). Some sources have translated the phrase "fa zann-a an lan naqdir-a 'alayh" as "[he] deemed that We had no power over him", while it disagrees the position and knowledge of prophets and its correct translation in the views of Shi'a and Sunni Scholars is that he thought that God would not put him to hardship. Teachers of Islamic ethics and mysticism have emphasized on the fruit of saying the dhikr "There is no god except You! You are immaculate! I have indeed been among the wrongdoers!" in verse eighty seven known as al-Yunusiyya dhikr and consider its frequent repetition opening the way for spiritual wayfarers.
Inheriting the Earth
|— Qur'an, 21:105|
Verse 105 of this sura promises the righteous servants of God that they will inherit the earth. Some sources refer to hadiths transmitted about this verse and consider "My righteous servants" in this verse referring to Imam al-Mahdi (a) or the followers of the Ahl al-Bayt (a).
Verses of Rulings
The seventh verse of Sura al-Anbiya' has been referred to in the issue of following the most learned.
Some scholars have referred to this verse and believe in the permission of referring to those other than the most learned even in case of disagreement between his opinion and the opinion of the most learned especially in the issue of taqlid. On the opposite, some say that this verse only suggest referring to the people of knowledge of dhikr which is a common view and do not consider it a reason for the primacy of the prioritized over the prior.
Merits and Benefits
In a hadith from the noble Prophet (s), it is mentioned that whoever recites this sura, God will be easy on him in reckoning his deeds, will forgive him, and all the prophets whose names are mentioned in the Qur'an will send praise to him. Also, it is transmitted from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that whoever recites Sura al-Anbiya' out of desire is like a person who associates with all the prophets in the paradises full of blessings and in his life in this world, he will look majestic to people.
- 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.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from سوره انبیاء in Farsi WikiShia.