Sura al-Naml

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Sura al-Naml
Sura Number27
Revelation Number48
Verse Count93
Word Count1166
Letter Count4795\

Sūra al-Naml (Arabic: سورة النمل) or Sura Sulayman (سورة سلیمان) is the twenty seventh sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura, located in nineteenth and twentieth juz's of the Qur'an. The sura is called "al-Naml" (ant) because it narrates the story of ants and the Prophet Solomon (a). The sura tells the stories of five prophets, Moses (a), David (a), Solomon (a), Salih (a), and Lot (a), and it thereby gives glad tidings to believers and warns polytheists. The sura also contains materials about God, signs of monotheism, and events of the resurrection.

Verse sixty two is a well-known verse of "Sura al-Naml", which is according to some hadiths about Imam al-Mahdi (a). This verse is recited as a supplication asking God to obviate sufferings and heal the sick. Another well-known verse is verse eighty three which is appealed to in order to prove raj'a.

As to the virtues of reciting "Sura al-Naml", it is said that he who recites it will be given rewards ten times greater than the number of those who believed in or denied Solomon, Hud (a), Shu'ayb (a), Salih, and Abraham (a), and when he rises out of his grave in the day of resurrection, he will recite "there is no god except Allah."


  • Naming

The sura is called "al-Naml" (ant) because it narrates the story of ants and the Prophet Solomon.[1] It is also called "Sulayman" (Solomon), because it narrates the story of Solomon.[2] The third name of the sura is "Ta-sin" because it opens with the disjoined letters of "ta-sin."[3]

  • Place and Order of Revelation

"Sura al-Naml" is a Makki sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the 48th sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the current order of revelation, it is the 27th sura, located in nineteenth and twentieth juz's of the Qur'an.[4]

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-Naml has ninety three verses, 1166 words, and 4795 letters. With regard to size, it counts as one of the Mathani and intermediate suras, occupying less than one half of a juz' of the Qur'an.[5] It is mustahab (supererogatory) to prostrate when reciting verse 26 of Sura al-Naml.[6] Sura al-Naml is the 13th sura of the 29 Muqatti'at suras, that is, those opening with disjoined letters. It opens with letters, "ta-sin."[7] Thus, it came to be called one of the Tawasin suras.[8]

Another feature of Sura al-Naml is that it contains two instances of "bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim”: one at the opening of the sura, and the other at the beginning of Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba (Bilqis) in verse 30.[9]


According to 'Allama Tabataba'i, the main goal of Sura al-Naml is to give good tidings and warnings to people. Thus, it briefly narrates the stories of some prophets, including Moses (a), David (a), Solomon (a), Salih (a), and Lot (a), and then points to certain tenets of religious beliefs, such as God's oneness in lordship as well as resurrection.[10]

According to Tafsir-i nimuna, the stories of the five prophets and their fights against their misguided peoples are narrated as consolations for believers in Mecca who were a minority, and as warnings to obstinate polytheists so that they remember the fates of earlier transgressors and come to their senses.[11] Other themes of the sura include God's omniscience, His monitoring of everything in the world, and His sovereignty over His servants, the consideration of which has wide-ranging pedagogical effects on humans.[12]

The sura also contains materials concerning God, signs of monotheism, and events of resurrection.

Content of Sura al-Naml[13]
Quranic teachings have no effect on enemies of the truth
Introduction: verses: 1-6
Disbelievers not benefiting the guidance of the Qur'an
First speech: verses 7-58
Instances of belief by seekers of the truth and obstinacy of enemies of the truth
Second duty: verses 59-75
Falsity of the beliefs of disbelievers
Third duty: verses 76-93
The Qur'an's and the Prophet's (s) ultimatum to disbelievers
First instance: verses 7-14
People of the Pharaoh not believing in Moses
Second instance: verses 15-44
The Queen of Sheba believing in Solomon
Third instance: verses 45-53
The fate of the enemies of the truth from people of Thamud
Fourth instance: verses 54-58
The fate of people of Lot
First subject-matter: verses 59-64
The falsity of taking a partner for God
Second subject-matter: verses 65-75
the falsity of beliefs of disbelievers concerning resurrection
First subject-matter: verses 76-78
The Qur'an states right beliefs
First subject-matter: verses 7-9
The prophethood of Moses when returning to Egypt
First subject-matter: verses 15-16
Knowledge endowed by God to Solomon
First subject-matter: verses 45-46
Salih's mission for the guidance of the People of Thamud
First subject-matter: verses 54-55
Lot's opposition to the moral corruption of his people
First point: verse 59
God's superiority over everything
First point: verses 65-75
The ignorance of polytheists about the resurrection
Second subject-matter: verses 76-81
Mentally blind people do not have the capacity to be guided
Second subject-matter: verses 10-12
Clear miracles of Moses
Second subject-matter: verses 17-19
Solomon's armies from jinns and humans
Second subject-matter: verse 47
Propagations of disbelievers against Salih and his followers
Second subject-matter: verses 56-58
The denial on part of the People of Lot and their destruction
Second point: verses 60-64
instances of God's unique arrangement of the world
Second point: verses 67-70
Polytheist's delusion about new life
Third subject-matter: verses 82-86
The trial of disbelievers in the day of resurrection
Third subject-matter: verses 13-14
Denying Moses despite knowledge of his truthfulness
Third subject-matter: verses 20-26
Solomon's knowledge of the polytheism of the people of Sheba
Third subject-matter: verses 48-50
The attempt to kill Salih and his family
Third point: verses 71-75
Polytheist's delusion about new life
Fourth subject-matter: verses 87-90
Punishment of enemies of the truth in the day of resurrection
Fourth subject-matter: verses 27-31
Sending a letter to the Queen of Sheba and inviting her to monotheism
Fourth subject-matter: verses 51-53
The rescue of Salih’s followers and the destruction of disbelievers
Fifth subject-matter: verses 91-93
The Prophet's obligation to send an ultimatum to disbelievers
Fifth subject-matter: verses 32-35
The Queen of Sheba not believing, and instead, sending a gift
Sixth subject-matter: verses 36-37
Solomon’s returning the gift and announcing war against Sheba
Seventh subject-matter: verses 38-44
The Queen of Sheba believing after seeing two miracles

Historical Stories and Narrations

Stories referred to in Sura al-Naml include those of the Prophet Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and other prophets.

  • David (a) and Solomon (a) being endowed knowledge by God, Solomon's inheritance from David, Solomon's knowledge of the language of birds (verse 15-16)
  • Gathering an army of jinns and humans (verse 17)
  • Solomon crossing the realm of ants (verses 18 and 19)
  • The absence of hoopoe, the return of hoopoe, its report of Sheba and its queen and their sun worshiping, Solomon's letter to the Queen of Sheba, her consultation with heads of her nation, her gift to Solomon, Solomon's rejection of the gift, his threats to attack, Solomon's request for the throne of the Queen of Sheba, the arrival of the queen in Solomon's palace and seeing her throne, her wonder at Solomon's palace, her faith in God (verses 20-44)
  • The story of Salih (a): the mission of Salih, conversations with his people, decision by nine groups to make a raid on Salih overnight, the destruction of the people, the rescue of believers (verses 45-53)
  • The story of Lot (a): Lot's warnings about corruptions of his people, people's request to banish Lot, Lot's rescue and his family except his wife, the suffering of his people (verses 54-58)

Exegetical Points

There are particular exegetical points about verses 80-81 and 83 of Sura al-Naml.

Unbelievers are like the Dead, the Deaf, and the Blind

In verses 80 and 81 of Sura al-Naml, "Indeed, you will not make the dead hear, nor will you make the deaf hear the call…," unbelievers are said to be like the dead who have no ears to hear and no eyes to see. Thus, they cannot hear the sermons of the Prophet (s), and the Prophet (s) cannot suggest the truth to them. In his interpretation of the verse, in Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi says that the deaf or the blind can still understand things if they want to, but those who intentionally turn away cannot be made aware. Thus, the Qur'an refers by this simile to the ignorance of deniers of the Prophet (s) who fail to understand the truth because of their biases.[14]

Tafsir-i nimuna appeals to these verses to show that life and death in the Quranic logic or insight are different from life and death in materialistic views. Thus, from a Quranic point of view, one might be alive physically speaking, although they count as the dead, just like those who close their eyes and ears to the words of prophets. To the contrary, one might not be alive physically speaking, but count as alive because of their effects on the material world, just like martyrs who are characterized by the Qur'an as alive.[15]

Raj'a during the Reappearance

Shiite scholars take to verse 83 of Sura al-Naml as the most explicit and the most important Quranic proof for raj'a.[16] According to al-Shaykh al-Mufid, God gives life back to some of the dead after the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a).[17]

According to Shiite exegetes and theologians, this gathering or rising is different from the renewed life of the dead in the day of resurrection. For in the day of resurrection, all the dead come back to life, whereas this verse refers to a few of the dead coming back to life. Scholars who have appealed to this verse to prove raj'a include al-Shaykh al-Saduq in his al-I'tiqadat,[18] al-Shaykh al-Mufid,[19] al-Shaykh al-Tusi in his al-Tibyan,[20] Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi in Majma' al-bayan,[21] and al-Allama al-Majlisi in Haqq al-yaqin.[22]

Well-Known Verses

Well-known verses of Sura al-Naml include verse 34 concerning the destruction of cities during wars, the verse 62, and verse 69 concerning the travel through the world.

Verse 34

Allama Tabataba'i interprets the ruining of cities in this verse as the physical destruction of cities, setting them on fire, destroying their buildings, and humiliating, captivating, killing, and exiling people of those cities.[23] The verse was a response given by the Queen of Sheba to her companions who encouraged her to wage a war with Solomon (a). According to Tafsir-i nimuna, since the Queen of Sheba was a monarch herself, and thus she knew the characteristics of monarchs, she responded to the war-mongering of her companions by notifying the effects of wars so that she can find a different way to answer Solomon's letter and evaluate the accuracy of his remarks.[24]

In his Majma' al-bayan, al-Tabrisi takes the phrase, "And thus do they do," to be God's confirmation of what Bilqis said about kings.[25]

Verse 62 (Amman Yujib verse)

This verse is usually recited for being saved from sufferings, sorrows, and illnesses.[26] The verse talks about "mudtar" (the desperate), because one condition for God's answer to a supplication is its sincerity, and a desperate person who has no hopes except in God and is totally disappointed of anyone else makes a sincere supplication to God; he only calls God, and God will answer him.[27]

In some hadiths, the verse is said to be about Imam al-Mahdi (a). Imam al-Sadiq (a) said: the verse is revealed about al-Qa'im. I swear to God that he is desperate. When he says two rak'as of prayers in Maqam Ibrahim and raises his hands to God, God answers his supplication, obviates his sadness, and makes him His successor on the earth.[28]

According to Bihar al-anwar, when the Imams recited this verse as a supplication, they recited it as follows: "ya man yujib al-mudtar idha da'ah" (Oh He who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him).[29]

Verse 69 (Verse of Travelling on the Earth)

The verse is said to be a warning to people who denied the prophethood of Muhammad (s): that they would be destroyed just like previous nations who denied their prophets. The warning appears in other similar verses as well.[30]

Merits and Benefits

On the virtues of the recitation of "Sura al-Naml," there is a hadith to the effect that a person who recites Sura Ta-sin Sulayman (that is, Sura al-Naml), God will give him rewards ten times greater than the number of those who believed in or denied Solomon (a), Hud (a), Shu'ayb (a), Salih (a), and Abraham (a), and when he rises out of his grave in the day of resurrection, he will cry: "there is no god except Allah."[31] According to another hadith, he who recites the Tawasin suras(that is, the suras of Qur'an 26, al-Naml, and Qur'an 28) on eves of Friday will be an ally of God, will be under His grace and support, will not be miserable in this world, will be given the Heaven in the afterlife until he is satisfied or even beyond his satisfaction, and God will marry him to one hundred fair women with large eyes (Hur al-'In).[32]


  1. Khurramshāhī, ‘'Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1244.
  2. Ṣafawī, "Sura Naml," p. 829.
  3. Khurramshāhī, ‘'Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1244.
  4. Maʿrifat, ‘'Āmūzish-i ʿulūm-i Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 166.
  5. Ṣafawī, "Sura Naml," p. 829.
  6. Khurramshāhī, ‘'Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1244.
  7. Ṣafawī, "Sura Naml," p. 829.
  8. Rāmyār, ‘'Tārīkh Qurʾān, p. 597.
  9. Khurramshāhī, ‘'Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 1244.
  10. Ṭabāṭabāyī, ‘'al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 339.
  11. Makārim Shīrāzī, ‘'Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 391.
  12. Makārim Shīrāzī, ‘'Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 391.
  13. 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.
  14. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 365.
  15. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 542-543.
  16. Riḍānizhād & Pāybarjāy, "Barrasī-yi dilālat-i āya-yi 83 sura-yi naml," p. 43-46; Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 549.
  17. Mufīd, Awāʾil al-maqālāt, vol. 4, p. 77.
  18. Ṣadūq, al-Iʿtiqādāt, 62-63.
  19. Mufīd, al-Masāʾil al-sarwīyya, p. 32-33.
  20. Ṭūsī, al-Tibyān, vol. 8, p. 120.
  21. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 366.
  22. Majlisī, Ḥaqq al-yaqīn, p. 336.
  23. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 360.
  24. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 15, p. 455.
  25. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 345.
  26. Malikī Tabrīzī, al-Murāqibāt, p. 261.
  27. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 381.
  28. Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī, vol. 2, p. 129.
  29. Majlisī, Biḥar al-anwār, vol. 92, p. 103; Ibn Ṭāwūs, Mahaj al-daʿawāt, p. 342.
  30. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 15, p. 387.
  31. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 7, p. 327.
  32. Ḥuwayzī, Nūr al-thaqalayn, vol. 4, p. 74.


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