Sura Al Imran

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This article is an introduction to the Sura Al Imran; to read its text see text:Sura Al Imran.
Sura Al Imran
Sura Number3
Juz'3, 4
Revelation Number89
Verse Count200
Word Count3508
Letter Count14984\

Sūra Āl ʿImrān (Arabic: سورة آل عِمران) is the third sura of the Qur'an. This sura is a Madani sura located in juz' three and four. It is called "Al Imran" because it mentions Imran and his family. The main theme of the sura is the calling of believers to solidarity and patience in the face of the enemies of Islam.

The sura refers to monotheism, divine attributes, the resurrection, jihad, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, tawalli, tabarri, and hajj. It also presents brief histories of prophets such as Adam (a), Noah (a), Abraham (a), Moses (a), Jesus (a), as well as the story of Maryam (a) and lessons to be learned from the battles of Uhud and Badr.

The best-known verses of the sura include Qur'an 3:103, Qur'an 3:7, Qur'an 3:134, Qur'an 3:61, and Qur'an 3:192-194. There are verses in the sura concerning jurisprudential rulings.

One virtue of the recitation of this sura is that if one recites Sura Al Imran, then for every verse of the sura, God will give him safety conduct to pass the the bridge of sirat.

Introduction of the Sura

  • Naming

The sura is called "Al Imran" because the word, "Imran", occurs in two verses of the sura. The verse thirty three refers to the family of Imran as "Al Imran", and the verse thirty five refers to Imran, the father of Maryam (a).[1] The sura is also called "Tayyiba", that is, pure from any accusations or guilt, which refers to Maryam's innocence and chastity.[2]

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura Al Imran is a Madani sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the 89th sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the current order of compilation, it is the third sura in the third and fourth juz's of the Qur'an.[3]

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

"Sura Al Imran" has two hundred verses, 3508 words, and 14984 letters. It is the second sura that opens with disjoined letters.[4] Sura Al Imran is the third largest sura of the Qur'an, after the suras of Qur'an 2 and Qur'an 4, encompassing about one and a half juz's of the Qur'an. It counts as sab' tiwal (the seven long) suras.[5] Qur'an 2 and Sura Al Imran are jointly referred to as Zahrawan.[6]

According to some exegetes of the Qur'an, the sura was revealed throughout the battles of Badr and Uhud, that is, the second and third years after Hijra.(623-24 CE) It points out part of the most critical period of the history of early Muslims.[7]


Allama Tabataba'i believes that the main aim of Sura Al Imran is to call believers to solidarity, patience, and resistance towards the enemies of Islam. In his view, the sura asks Muslims to recommend patience to one another. It then reminds them of religious truths in order to save them from religious doubts and diabolical temptations.[8]

The content of Sura Al Imran is summarized as follows in Tafsir-i nimuna:

  • Command to participate in jihad, and lessons to be learned from the battles of Badr and Uhud;
  • Calling believers to solidarity and resistance towards the enemy;
  • Endurance of different problems and divine tests and remembrance of God in all circumstances;
  • Conspiracies of obstinate followers of Moses (a) and Jesus (a) against Islam.[9]
Content of Sura Al Imran[10]
Resistance against cultural and military attacks of the enemies of Islam
Introduction: verses 1-6
Not refraining from jihad with enemies
First section: verses 7-120
Resistance against the cultural attack of the enemies of Islam
Second section: verses 121-188
Principles of confrontation with military invasions of the enemy
Conclusion: verses 189-200
Superiority of believers over their enemies
First chapter: verses 7-9
Resistance against the religious conspiracy of hypocrites (munafiqun)
Second chapter: verses 10-18
Resistance against the cultural attack of disbelievers
Third chapter: verses 19-120
resistance against the religious attack of the People of the Book
First principle: verses 121-129
The belief that God will help the believers
Second principle: verses 130-138
promotion of piety and sympathy within the Islamic community
Third principle: verses 139-148
Not showing weakness to enemies
Fourth principle: verses 149-188
Resistance against the psychological warfare of hostile groups
First subject-matter: verses 189-194
beliefs by believers
First subject-matter: verse 7
The religious conspiracy of hypocrites by appealing to mutashabih (vague) verses of the Qur'an
First subject-matter: verses 10-13
The economic power of disbelievers does not prevent their failure
First subject-matter: verses 19-27
The disbelief of the People of the Book
First subject-matter: verses 121-122
Some believers doubt whether God would help
First subject-matter: verses 130-132
Avoiding usury
First subject-matter: verses 139-141
Believers should not feel weak because of their failure in the Battle of Uhud
First group: verses 149-152
Psychological warfare of polytheists
Second subject-matter: verses 195-199
Rewards for believers
Second subject-matter: verses 7-9
How to counter the religious conspiracy of hypocrites
Second subject-matter: verse 14
Disbelievers are deceived by appearances of the mundane world
Second subject-matter: verses 28-32
Obligations on part of believers with respect to the disbelief of the People of the Book
Second subject-matter: verses 123-126
God helped Muslim warriors in the Battle of Badr
Second subject-matter: verses 133-134
Donation to, and love for, others
Second subject-matter: verses 142-145
Factors that led to the failure of Muslims in the Battle of Uhud
Second group: verses 154-165
Psychological warfare of irresolute believers
Third subject-matter: verse 200
Obligations of believers
Third subject-matter: verses 15-17
The afterlife of believers is better than the mundane life of disbelievers
Third subject-matter: verses 33-63
Reasons why Jesus the Christ is not God
Third subject-matter: verses 127-129
The undermining of enemies with the divine help
Third subject-matter: verses 135-136
Asking God to forgive one's sins
Third subject-matter: verses 146-148
Reminder of how men of God resist against enemies
Third group: verses 166-179
psychological warfare of hypocrites
Fourth subject-matter: verse 18
The monotheistic view of believers is right
Fourth subject-matter: verses 64-99
Conspiracies of the People of the Book against Muslims
Fourth subject-matter: verses 137-138
The divine tradition of the victory of believers
Fourth group: verses 180-188
Psychological warfare of Jews
Fifth subject-matter: verses 100-120
Obligations of believers when facing the conspiracies of the People of the Book

Historical Stories and Narrations

Here are some historical stories and narrations in Sura Al Imran:

  • The story of Maryam (a) and Jesus (a)
  • The pledge or nadhr of Maryam's mother and the birth of Maryam (a); verses 35-37
  • Zechariah's (a) prayer for having a child and the birth of John (a) (Yahya); verses 38-41
  • Maryam (a) being chosen by God; verses 41-44
  • The birth of Jesus (a); verses 45-47
  • Jesus's mission, miracles, Apostles, and ascent; verses 48-55
  • Al-Mubahala (the Prophet's conversation with Christians of Najran and their invitation to a mutual cursing); verse 61
  • The construction of the Ka'ba in Mecca; verses 96-97
  • The Battle of Uhud; verses 121-122, 152-154, 166-168, and 172
  • The Battle of Badr and the help of angels; verses 123-126

Occasions of Revelations of Some Verses

There are occasions of revelation for nearly fifty verses of Sura Al Imran,[11] some of which are pointed out in what follows:

Conversation between the Christians of Najran and the Prophet (s)

In his Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi quotes Rabi' b. Anas as saying that the first eighty verses of Sura Al Imran were revealed about a number of Christians in Najran who went to Medina to talk with the Prophet of Islam under the leadership of three of their seniors known as Aqib, Ayham, and Abu Haritha b. Alqama. They met the Prophet (s) after the Asr Prayer, and after a conversation about Islam and the Christ, they could not reply to the Prophet's (s) arguments and became silent. When the conversation ended, the first eighty and so verses of Sura Al Imran were revealed.[12]

Verse 12

When Muslims defeated polytheists in the Battle of Badr, some Jews in Medina said that Muhammad (s) is the prophet promised in the Torah and so they had to believe in him. However, some others preferred to wait and see another battle. When Muslims were defeated in the Battle of Uhud, the Jews became skeptical. Thus, Ka'b b. Ashraf and a number of other Jews went to Mecca and agreed with Abu Sufyan on a joint measure against Muslims. This conspiracy by Jews and polytheists is condemned in this verse.[13]

Al-Mubahala (verse 61)

Al-Mubahala Verse is said to be revealed about two Christian monks known as Aqib and Sayyid, as well as a group of Christians from Najran who visited the Prophet (s) and did not convert to Islam after their conversation with him. Thus, they agreed to curse each other the next day so that the liar is punished by God. The next day, the Prophet (s) went to the desert together with al-Hasan (a), al-Husayn (a), Fatima (a), and Ali (a) for mubahala. When the Christians saw this, they rejected the invitation to al-mubahala, and agreed on paying jizya to the Prophet (s). According to hadiths, if they agreed to a mutual curse, the whole desert would be set on fire.[14]

Verse 72

Twelve people from the Jews of Khaybar decided to express their belief in Muhammad's (s) religion early on a day and then exit Islam late in the day on the ground that, having contemplated the Qur'an and consulted their scholars, they were certain that Islam was false and Muhammad (s) was a liar. They thought that Muhammad's (s) companions would thus doubt their beliefs and convert to Judaism, because they think of the Jews as People of the Book and scholars. With the revelation of this verse, God disclosed their conspiracy to the Prophet (s) and Muslims.[15]

Well-Known Verses

Al-Muhkam wa l-Mutashabih (Verse 7)

This verse talks about a category of Quranic verses as "al-mutashabihat" (vague or unspecific) which do not have obvious meanings and can be misused by deviated people. According to Makarim Shirazi, such verses exist because their contents are from worlds outside the human access, such as the Hidden World, the world of resurrection, and God's attributes.[16] In exegetical works and Quranic sciences, the meaning and instances of "al-mutashabihat" in this verse have for long been discussed. There are even independent essays and books on the matter.[17]

Verse 19

Allama Tabataba'i takes "Islam" in this verse in its literal meaning (surrender), which shows that the core of all divine religions is one thing: surrender to, and obedience of, God.[18] Also in Tafsir-i nimuna, the word, "Islam", is said to mean surrender. Thus, the true religion for God is to surrender to God's orders. Hence, the religion of Muhammad (s) is called "Islam" because it is the last, and the most superior, religion. Otherwise, all divine religions are indeed Islam.[19]

Verse 26

God's sovereignty (or mulk) here is said to refer to His power in that He can manipulate His realm in whatever way He wants to.[20] According to Quranic exegetes, the sentence, "You give sovereignty to whom You wish," refers to early Muslims who accepted the call to Islam and acted upon Islam, and then God gave them the power, rule, and honor, and "You take sovereignty away from whom You wish" is said to refer to polytheists of Mecca, Romans, and Persians whose power was taken away from them by God because of their disbelief.[21] Thus, it is a sign of the divine power that He takes sovereignty away from the powerful and gives it to the impoverished.[22]

Al-Mubahala Verse (verse 61)

Al-Mubahala Verse was discussed by scholars of different Islamic denominations in their theological, exegetical, historical, and jurisprudential works.[23] Shiite exegetes and some Sunni exegetes take the verse to refer to the virtues of [[Imam Ali (a) and Ahl al-Bayt (a).[24] In this verse, Imam Ali (a) is described as the Prophet's (s) soul or life.[25] Imam al-Rida (a) referred to this verse as the greatest virtue of Imam Ali (a) in the Qur'an.[26]

Al-Infaq Verse (Verse 92)

The word, "birr", in the verse is said to mean a widespread good or benefit, be it a belief or an action,[27] and its instances are said to be the Heaven, piety, righteousness,[28] faith, and pure actions.[29] According to the verse, one can achieve righteousness only on the condition that one donates what one loves.[30]

Verse 103

According to exegetes, the main theme of the verse is to call believers to unity and warn about any divisions among Muslims.[31] In this verse, God refers to brotherhood and love as the only way to save Muslims from the "edge of a pit of the Fire." The "Fire" here is said to refer not to the Hell, but to longtime wars and quarrels between Aws and Khazraj before Islam, which was extinguished after Islam and through brotherhood between them.[32]

Verse 133

To "hasten" to God's forgiveness in the verse is to try to prepare the grounds of forgiveness, as elaborated by the Qur'an and the Sunna.[33]

Verse 134

In this verse, some characteristics of the righteous who seek God's forgiveness are mentioned, including the restraint of their anger (kazm al-ghayz).[34]

Verse 169

The verse refers to the high position of martyrs, their being alive after death, and their extraordinary life before their lord.[35] This verse is engraved on the present darih of Abbas (a), which was installed in 2016.[36]

Verses of Rabbana (192-194)

These are Quranic supplications beginning with "Rabbana" (O our Lord), in which wise believers make certain requests from their Lord. In the first verse, wise believers say that they fear disgrace more than the fire of the Hell; thus, they try to tolerate any pains or suffering in order to protect their reputation and grace. Thus, they refer to the disgrace before God and His servants as the most painful punishment on the day of resurrection.[37]

The "caller" (munadi) in the second verse is said to refer to the Prophet of Islam (s) who called people to the faith, and believers in his call deserve to be forgiven and rewarded they are promised.[38]

Other Well-Known Verses

There are other well-known verses in Sura Al Imran:

  • Verse 3: about the endorsement of preceding scriptures such as the Torah and the Gospel;
  • Verse 27: about the creation of day and night (ilaj: the night entering the day and the day entering the night);
  • Verse 144: in which people are prohibited from returning to the ignorance after the Prophet's (s) demise;
  • Verse 159: about the Prophet's good temper or lenience;
  • Verse 164: according to which God has conferred His favor upon believers;
  • verse 185: according to which every soul will taste the death;

Verses of Jurisprudential Rulings

Ayat al-Ahkam or Jurisprudential Verses are those in which a jurisprudential ruling is stated or those that can be employed in the process of inferring a jurisprudential ruling.[39] There are certain verses in Sura Al Imran which have been deployed by jurists to glean a jurisprudential ruling. Verse ninety is about the rejection of an apostate's repentance; verse ninety six is about the safety of the residents of the shrine of Mecca and the obligation of hajj for everyone; and the verse 130 is about the prohibition of usury.

Verse Number Chapter Issue
Verse 19 Purity (tahara) and impurity (najasa) Denying the essentials of the religion
Verse 44 The legitimacy of lottery in problematic cases
Verse 77 pledge, oath, and promise Consequences of violating one's oath
Verse 90 The rejection of an apostate's repentance
Verse 93 Foods and drinks All foods being halal
Verse 97 Hajj Safety of the residents of the shrine of Mecca
obligation of hajj for everyone
Verse 104 enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong The obligation of enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong
Verse 130 Transactions Prohibition of consuming usury

Merits and Benefits

In his Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi cited a hadith from the Prophet (s) according to which whoever recites Sura Al Imran will be given a safety conduct for every verse of the sura with which he can pass the Bridge of the Hell. He cites another hadith from the Prophet (s) according to which, if one recites Sura Al Imran on Friday, God and angels will send their peace to him until the sunset.[40]


  1. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Al Imrān," p. 1236.
  2. Sarmadī, "Sūra-yi Al 'Imran", p. 679
  3. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Al Imrān," p. 1236.
  4. Sarmadī, "Sūra-yi Al 'Imran", p. 679.
  5. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Al Imrān," p. 1236.
  6. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Al Imrān," p. 1236.
  7. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 2, p. 408.
  8. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 3, p. 5,6.
  9. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 2, p. 408, 409.
  10. 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.
  11. Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 99-145.
  12. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 695-696.
  13. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 706; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 100.
  14. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 762; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 107.
  15. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 773-774; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 111.
  16. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 2, p. 432-433.
  17. Rustamīzada, Riḍā, Khazā'ī, Majīd. Mutashābih wa muḥkam wa rāsikhan dar 'ilm az dīdgāh-i Imam Ali (a), p. 74.
  18. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 3, p. 120-121.
  19. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 2, p. 470-471.
  20. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-kāshif, vol. 2, p. 36-37.
  21. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 727-728; Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-kāshif, vol. 2, p. 37.
  22. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-kāshif, vol. 2, p. 37.
  23. Al-Ghafūrī, Khānish-i fiqhī-i jadīdī az āya-yi mubāhila, p. 48.
  24. Zamakhsharī, Al-Kashāf, vol. 1, p. 369; Fakhr Rāzī, al-Tafsīr al-kabīr, vol. 8, p. 247; Bayḍāwī, Anwār al-tanzīl wa asrār al-ta'wīl, vol. 2, p. 21.
  25. Ṣādiqī Tehrānī, Al-Furqān, vol. 5, p. 168.
  26. Mufīd, Al-Fūṣūl al-mukhtārih, p. 38.
  27. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 3, p. 334.
  28. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 792.
  29. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 3.
  30. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 3.
  31. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 32.
  32. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 32.
  33. Sādiqī Tehrānī, Al-Furqān, vol. 5, p. 381.
  34. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 97.
  35. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 163-170.
  36. Al-Kafil World Network
  37. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 3, p. 217.
  38. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 4, p. 88.
  39. Mu'īnī, Ayāt al-Aḥkām, p. 1.
  40. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 2, p. 693.


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