Sura al-Anbiya'

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Sura al-Anbiya'
Sura Number21
Revelation Number73
Verse Count112
Word Count1177
Letter Count5093\

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.


  • Naming

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'.[1] 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.[2]

  • 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.[3]

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-Anbiya' has 112 verses and 1177 words. With regard to size, it is one of the Mi'un suras, which amount to half juz' of the Qur'an.[4]


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.[5]

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
  • 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
  • The reason for disbelievers' turning away from prophethood
  • Establishing proofs for monotheism[6]
Content of Sura al-Anbiya'[7]
God's support for the Prophet (s) and his monotheistic teachings
The first phase: verses 1-20
Disbelievers' opposition against the Prophet (s)
The second phase: verses 2147
Deviation of polytheists from the teachings of the Prophet (s)
The third phase: verses 48-91
God's support for the righteous and messengers of monotheism
The fourth phase: verses 92-112
Importance of following monotheistic teachings of the Prophet of Islam (s)
The first issue: verses 1-2
Disbelievers' ignorance about prophets' warnings
The first deviation: verses 21-33
Ascribing partner to God
The first sample: verses 48-50
God's mercy upon Prophet Moses (a) and Prophet Jesus (a)
The first issue: verses 92-100
Terrible destination of deviation from monotheism
The second issue: verses 3-5
Disbelievers' slanders against the Prophet (s)
The second deviation: verses 34-36
Mocking the Prophet (s) and his teachings
The second sample: verses 51-73
God's support for Prophet Abraham (a)
The second issue: verses 101-106
Reward of monotheists
The third issue: verses 6-10
Signs of the Prophet's (s) truth
The third deviation: verses 37-47
Rejection of the hereafter and the promise of punishment
The third sample: verses 74-75
God's support for Prophet Lot (a)
The third issue: verses 107-108
Monotheistic teachings of the Prophet (s), mercy for people of the world
The fourth issue: verses 11-15
Warning the Prophet's (s) opposers
The fourth sample: verses 76-77
Saving Noah (a) from disbelievers
The fourth issue: verses 109-112
Warning rejecters of the Prophet (s)
The fifth issue: verses 16-20
Final victory of the adherents of the truth over falsehood
The fifth and sixth samples: verses 78-82
God's mercies upon Prophet David (a) and Prophet Solomon (a)
The seventh sample: verses 83-84
God's blessings upon Prophet Ayyub (a)
The eighth to tenth samples: verses 85-86
God's mercies upon Prophets Isma'il (a), Idris (a) and Dhu l-Kifl (a)

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

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]."[8]

Famous Verses

Rejecting Different Gods

In this verse, the argument of demonstration per impossible is used to prove the Oneness of God.[9] This verse and similar verses of Qur'an 43 reject the existence of other gods using the same method.[10] Such an argumentation is also transmitted from Infallible Imams (a) as well.[11]

Verse of Ghufayla Prayer

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.[12] 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.[13]

Inheriting the Earth

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).[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]


  1. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Anbiyā'," p. 1242.
  2. Muḥaqqiqīyan, "Sura-yi Anbiyā'," p. 691.
  3. Maʿrifat, Tamhīd, vol. 1, p. 137.
  4. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 61; Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Anbiya'," p. 1242.
  5. Muḥaqqiqīyan, "Sura-yi Anbiyā'," p. 692.
  6. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 14, p. 244; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 13, p. 349.
  7. 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.
  8. Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 314-315.
  9. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 70.
  10. Ṭabāṭabāʾī, al-Mīzān, vol. 14, p. 267.
  11. Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol.1, p. 81.
  12. Siyūṭī, al-Dur al-manthūr, vol. 4, p. 332-333; Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 96..
  13. Shīrwānī, Barnāma-yi seyr-o-sulūk dar nāmahā-yi sālikān, p. 225; Mazāhirī, Seyr-o-sulūk, p.114.
  14. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 3, p. 847-848.
  15. Imām Khomeinī, Āyāt al-ahkām, p. 651-652.
  16. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 61


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