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Sura al-Fajr

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This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Fajr; to read its text see text:Sura al-Fajr.
Sura al-Fajr
al-Ghashiya← →al-Balad
سوره فجر.jpg
Sura Number 89
Juz' 30
Revelation Number 10
Makki/Madani Makki
Verse Count 30
Word Count 139
Letter Count 584

Sūra al-Fajr (Arabic: سورة الفجر) is the 89th sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in the 30th juz' thereof. "Fajr" literally means dawn, by which God swears in the first verse of this sura. In hadith-based exegeses of the Qur'an, the "dawn" has been interpreted as Imam al-Mahdi (a), the Twelfth Shiite Imam.

Sura al-Fajr begins with an oath, it points out the fates of people of Ad, Thamud, and the Pharaoh, as well as their corruptions and transgressions. The sura suggests that people are always subject to the divine test, although some of them fail in this test. The sura also refers to reasons of their failure.

Sura al-Fajr is also known as "Sura of Imam al-Husayn (a)". In some hadiths, the "reassured soul" in the last verses of the sura is interpreted as referring to Imam al-Husayn (a). According to some hadiths, if one recites the sura in the ten nights, God will forgive his sins, and if he recites it in other days, a light will accompany him in the day of resurrection. Sura al-Fajr is among the suras engraved on the present darih of al-Imam al-Husayn (which was installed in 2012).


  • Naming

The sura is called "al-Fajr" because it opens with God's swearing by the dawn ("fajr").[1]

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-Fajr is a Makki sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the 10th sura revealed to the Prophet (s).[2] In the current order of compilation, it is the 89th sura, located in the 30th juz' of the Qur'an.

  • Number of Verses and Words

Sura al-Fajr has 30 verses, 139 words, and 584 letters. It counts as one of the Mufassalat suras (those with short verses), which begins with five instances of swearing.[3]

  • Sura of Imam al-Husayn (a)

Sura al-Fajr has come to be known as Sura of Imam al-Husayn (a),[4] because according to a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a), the "reassured soul" in a verse of this sura refers to Imam al-Husayn (a).[5]

Moreover, the verse, "and [by] ten nights," has been interpreted as referring to the first ten nights of Muharram.[6] Sura al-Fajr is one of the suras engraved on the darih of Imam al-Husayn (which was installed in 2012).


Sura al-Fajr makes references to the fate of the people of Ad, and "Iram [a garden] – with lofty pillars" as well as people of Thamud and people of the Pharaoh, and their corruptions and transgressions. It reminds that people are always subjects to divine tests; they are tested with both blessings and sufferings. It then states the reasons why unbelievers fail in the test. It also points to the day of judgement when unbelievers learn a lesson by seeing signs of the Hell, but it is futile because it is too late.[7]

Content of Sura al-Fajr[8]
Wealth is not a sign of happiness and God's attention to the person
First speech: verses 1-14
God's tradition of giving blessings and then taking them back
Second speech: verses 15-26
Possession of blessings is not a criterion of happiness
Third speech: verses 27-30
One should serve God both in blessings and sufferings
First subject-matter: verses 1-5
God's spiritual graces to believers during the days of the Hajj pilgrimage
First subject-matter: verses 15-16
Two delusions about criteria of happiness and misery
First subject-matter: verses 27-28
Constant obedience of God by servants
Second subject-matter: verses 6-14
Taking material blessings away from corrupt disbelievers
Second subject-matter: verses 17-20
The sign of God’s anger is to commit sins, rather than losing one's blessings
Second subject-matter: verses 29-30
Rewards for the servitude of God
Third subject-matter: verses 21-26
The sign of God’s anger is afterlife punishment, rather than poverty

The Meaning of "Shaf'" (the Even) and "Watr" (the Odd), and Divine Tests

A hadith is cited in al-Burhan, according to which "al-shaf'" (the even or pair) means the Prophet (s) and Imam Ali (a), or Imam al-Hasan (a) and Imam al-Husayn (a), and "al-watr" (the odd or single) means God. There is also a hadith saying that "al-fajr" (the dawn) refers to Imam al-Mahdi (a), the Twelfth Shiite Imam.[9]

Testing Humans with Blessings

According to verses 15 and 16 of Sura al-Fajr, God tests humans sometimes with the profusion of blessings and sometimes with poverty. However, people forget the divine test. Thus, during the blessing, they think that they are close to God, and during poverty, they are disappointed, thinking that God has humiliated them.[10]

Well-Known Verses

Well-known verses of Sura al-Fajr include verse 22 concerning God's coming (maji') in the day of resurrection, and verses 27 and 28 concerning the reassured soul.

Verse 22 (Verse of Maji' (Coming))

This verse attributes the act of coming to God in the day of resurrection. According to Shiite theology, attributes of creatures such as coming and going cannot be ascribed to God. Thus, exegetes have interpreted this verse as referring to the coming of God's ruling or decree. This verse counts as a Mutashabih (ambiguous) verse that should be interpreted by recourse to Muhkam (explicit) verses.

Verses 27-28 (Reassured Soul Verse)

These two verses, plus verses 29 and 30, are the last verses of Sura al-Fajr. According to hadiths, the "reassured soul" (al-nafs al-mutma'inna) in these verses refers to Imam al-Husayn (a). Thus, Sura al-Fajr has also come to be known as "Sura of Imam al-Husayn".[11] Moreover, there are hadiths according to which the "reassured soul" is one who believes in the Prophet (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt. The sura is also said to be about Amir al-Mu'minin, where the "reassured soul" is one who believes in the wilaya of Amir al-Mu'minin.[12] These last verses of Sura al-Fajr usually appear in obituaries of Shiite scholars. Moreover, Muslim mystics have appealed to these verses to show that one stage or degree of the human soul is the "reassured soul."[13]

Exegetical Points

In the second verse of Sura al-Fajr, God swears by the ten nights. There are different interpretations of these ten nights: the first ten nights of Dhu l-Hijja, the first ten nights of Muharram, the last ten nights of Ramadan, and the first ten nights of Ramadan.[14]

According to al-Fakhr al-Razi, God's swearing by the ten nights indicates their greatness and virtues: the first ten nights of Muharram are virtuous because of the occurrence of the Day of Ashura therein, the last ten days of Ramadan are virtuous because of the occurrence of the Night of Qadr therein, and worships in the first ten days of Dhu l-Hijja are grounds for their virtue.[15] In his al-Mizan, Allama Tabataba'i points to all these possible interpretations and then argues that the ten nights in this verse are the first ten nights of Dhu l-Hijja.[16]

According to a hadith transmitted by Jabir b. Yazid al-Ju'fi from Imam al-Baqir (a), the ten nights are ten Infallible Imams. In this hadith, "al-fajr" (the dawn) is said to refer to the Prophet (s), "al-shaf'" (the even) is said to refer to Imam Ali (a), and "al-watr" (the odd) is said to refer to Imam al-Mahdi (a).[17]

Some exegetes believe that the ten nights are not only nights—they include days as well.[18]

Merits and Benefites

About the virtues of the recitation of Sura al-Fajr, a hadith has been cited in Majma' al-bayan from the Prophet (s): he who recites Sura al-Fajr in the ten nights will be forgiven by God, and he who recites it in other days will be accompanied by a light in the day of resurrection.[19] Moreover, Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying: "recite Sura al-Fajr in your obligatory and mustahab prayers, because it is the Sura of al-Husayn b. Ali (a). He who recites it will, after the resurrection, be in the Heaven with in same degree as al-Husayn."[20]


  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. 1263-1264.
  4. Muḥaddithī, Farhang-i ʿāshūrā, p. 251.
  5. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 24, p. 93.
  6. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 439.
  7. Khurramshāhī, Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1263-1264.
  8. 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.
  9. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 5, p. 650.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 26, p. 462.
  11. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 24, p. 93.
  12. Baḥrānī, al-Burhān, vol. 5, p. 657-658.
  13. See: Mullā Ṣadrā, Asrār al-āyāt, p. 93; Anṣārīyān, ʿIrfān-i Islāmī, vol. 1, p. 119-124.
  14. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 279.
  15. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 31, p. 149.
  16. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 20, p. 279.
  17. Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol. 1, p. 281.
  18. Miybudī, Kashf al-asrār, vol. 10, p. 479.
  19. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 730.
  20. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 10, p. 730.


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