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Sura al-Saff

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Sura al-Saff
al-Mumtahana← →al-Jum'a
سوره صف.jpg
Sura Number 61
Juz' 28
Revelation Number 111
Makki/Madani Madani
Verse Count 14
Word Count 226
Letter Count 966
This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Saff; to read its text see text:Sura al-Saff.

Sūra al-Ṣaff (Arabic: سورَة الصَّف) is the sixty first sura of the Qur'an. It is a Madani sura located in the juz' twenty eight. It is called "al-Saff" (literally: line) because its forth verse is about the lines of combatants (mujahidin). Topics mentioned in this sura include:

The exaltation and veneration of God, the reproach of people whose actions do not match their speech, the final victory of God's religion and its spread all over the world and the failure of counteractions by its enemies, and the encouragement of people to fight for God with their possessions and life.

A well-known verse in this sura is "Help from Allah and a victory near at hand, and give good news to the faithful." (verse thirteen) which is giving the good news of victory to the believers. The exegetes take this verse to refer to different conquests by Muslims, including the Conquest of Mecca.

Also, "imminent conquest" is interpreted as the final victory of Imam al-Mahdi (a). As to the virtue of the recitation of this sura, there is a hadith according to which if one recites Sura al-Saff, then as long as he is alive in this world, Jesus (a) will send peace to him and will ask for God's forgiveness for him, and on the day of Resurrection, he will be a companion of Jesus the Christ.


  • Naming

The sura is known as "al-Saff" (literally: line) because its forth verse refers to the line of combatants (mujahidin). It is also known as "Sura al-Hawāriyyun" (سورة الحواریون, Sura of Disciples) and "Sura 'Isa" (سورة عیسی, Sura of Jesus), because its last verse is concerned with Jesus (a) and his Disciples (that were his closest companions).[1]

  • The place and order of the revelation

Sura al-Saff is a Madani sura of the Qur'an, and in the order of the revelation, it is the 111th sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the traditional order of compilation,[2] it is the sixty first sura located in the twenty eighth juz' of the Qur'an.

  • The number of verses and other features

Sura al-Saff has forteen verses, 226 words, and 966 letters. It is one of the Mufassalat suras (the ones with numerous and short verses). Since Sura al-Saff begins with the exaltation (or tasbih) of God, it is taken to be one of the Musabbihat suras of the Qur'an as well.[3]


Sura al-Saff calls and encourages the believers to fight on the path of God, and analogizes Islam to a light that unbelievers and the People of the Book try to extinguish, but God will perfect His religion and help it take over all religions, even if unbelievers and polytheists do not like.

The sura goes on to say that Muhammad (s) is a prophet sent from God and that Jesus (a) the son of Mary (a) had given the news of Muhammad's appearance. So, believers should follow Muhammad (s) and help God through jihad; they should not say what they do not do, and if they promise, they should keep it, because such sins lead to God's anger and the unhappiness of the Prophet (s).[4]

Content of Sura al-Saff[5]
Calling the believers to be persistent on their fight against the enemies of God's religion
Introduction: verse 1
The general exaltation of all beings as a sign that God does not need people's help
First discourse: verses 2-9
The reproach of indolence in helping God's religion
Second discourse: verses 10-13
The reward for the jihad for God's religion
Third discourse: verse 14
Jesus's Disciples, instances of God's true helpers
First point: verses 2-4
The reproach of believers who do not keep their pledges
First reward: verses 10-11
Emancipation from the afterlife punishment
First point: verse 14
The Disciples' announcement of readiness for helping God's religion
Second point: verses 5-9
The reproach of Jews who did not help the prophets
Second reward: verse 12
Enjoying Heavenly blessings
Second point: verse 14
The victory of Jesus's helpers over their enemies
Third reward: verse 13
Victory over the enemy with the help of God

Famous Verses

Speech without Action

According to the occasion of the revelation of this verse, there were some Muslims who claimed: "if we knew what the most favorite action by God is, we would sacrifice our life and possessions for it". God introduced jihad as His most favorite action and tested them with the Battle of Uhud, but they fled from the battle.[6]

According to Tafsir al-Qummi, people whose actions do not match their speeches were, indeed, those of the companions of the Prophet (s) who had promised him for help, for compliance with his orders, and for fulfilling their pledge to the Prophet (s) about Amir al-Mu'minin (a), but God told them that they would not fulfill their promise.[7]

Victory from Allah

There are different exegetical accounts of what is meant by "imminent conquest". Many people have interpreted it as referring to the Conquest of Mecca, and some have taken it to refer to the conquest of Persia and conquest of Rome, and others hold that it refers to all Islamic conquests that were achieved in a short time. According to Tafsir al-Qummi, "imminent conquest" refers to the victory of Qa'im Al Muhammad.[8] The verse has turned into a slogan or motto among the Shi'as, and in particular, Iranians.

Virtues and Features

There is a hadith from the Prophet (s) according to which if one recites the Sura of Jesus (that is, Sura al-Saff), then Jesus (a) will send peace to him and will ask for his forgiveness as long as he is in this world, and he will be a companion of Jesus (a) on the Day of Resurrection.[9]

According to a hadith from Imam al-Baqir (a), if one recites Sura al-Saff and persists on its recitation in his obligatory and recommended prayers, then God will put him in the same "line" (saff) as that of the angels and prophets (a).[10]

Historical Accounts