Sura al-Sajda

Priority: b, Quality: b
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Sura al-Sajda
Sura Number32
Revelation Number75
Verse Count30
Word Count375
Letter Count1564\

This article is an introduction to the Sura al-Sajda; to read its text see text:Sura al-Sajda.

Sūra al-Sajda (Arabic: سورة السجدة) or Alif-Lām-Mīm al-Sajda (Arabic: ألـــم السجدة) or Alif-Lām-Mīm al-Tanzīl (Arabic: ألـــم تنزيل), is the thirty second sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in the twenty first juz' thereof.

Since it is obligatory to prostrate or go to sajda upon hearing its verse fifteen, it came to be called "al-Sajda" (prostration). Themes of the sura include resurrection, the creation of the being in six periods of time, and the creation of the humans from soil. It warns deniers of resurrections about punishment, and it notes that believers will receive a reward unimaginable by any human being.

Verses sixteen and eighteen of the sura were revealed about Amir al-Mu'minin (a). About the virtues of reciting the sura, it is said that a person who recites it on eves of Fridays will receive the record of his actions with his right hand, will be forgiven, and will be a friend of Muhammad (s) and his family.


  • Naming

The sura is called "al-Sajda" because it is obligatory to go to sajda or prostrate upon hearing its verse fifteen.[1] In some hadiths and by some exegetes, the sura is also referred to as "Alif-Lam-Mim al-Sajda" and "Alif-Lam-Mim al-Tanzil," and in order to be distinguished from Sura Ha-Mim al-Sajda (or Qur'an 41), it is also called "Sajda Luqman" since it occurs after Luqman (Qur'an 31).[2] Al-Fakhr al-Razi refers to the sura as "Madaji'" (beds) because of its verse sixteen.[3]

  • Order and Place of Revelation

Sura al-Sajda is a Makki sura of the Qur'an. In the order of revelation, it is the seventy fifth sura revealed to the Prophet (s). In the present order of compilation, it is the thirty second sura[4] located in the twenty first juz' of the Qur'an.

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-Sajda has thirty verses, 375 words, and 1564 letters. It is one al-Mathani suras that are rather small, occupying less than one hizb of the Qur'an. Sura al-Sajda is one of the four Quranic suras involving obligatory prostration. These suras are referred to as suras of Aza'im. Sura al-Sajda is the seventeenth sura opening with disjoined letters, and the last sura opening with "alif, lam, mim" as disjoined letters.[5] It also counts as one of the Mumtahinat suras,[6] since its content is similar to that of Qur'an 60 (Sura al-Mumtahina).[7][8]


'Allama Tabataba'i takes the main theme of the sura to consist in an argument for the existence of the Origin and the Return (that is, respectively, God and resurrection) and replies to objections thereto. Other themes of the sura include the Qur'an and prophethood, difference between believers in divine signs and wrongdoers who do not worship God, and an unimaginable reward promised to believers and a warning to punish wrongdoers in this world and the afterlife.[9]

According to Tafsir-i nimuna, the theme of Sura al-Sajda is to intensify faith in God and resurrection, to initiate a strong movement towards piety, to preclude people from disobedience and transgression, and to note the value of the transcendent place of humans. This exegesis of the Qur'an outlines the themes of the sura in the following sections:

  • God's signs on the earth and in the sky, and His arrangement of this world,
  • The creation of humans from soil and the divine soul, and giving them the means to learn and know (e.g. ears and eyes),
  • Giving believers the good tidings of the Garden of Refuge, and warning wrongdoers of God's fire,
Content of Sura al-Sajda[11]
Warning to deniers of Quranic teachings concerning resurrection
Introduction: verses 1-3
Warning about consequences of disbelief
First speech: verses 4-14
Proof for resurrection, and the inevitability of the suffering of disbelievers
Second speech: verses 15-22
The fate of believers in divine signs, and the fate of wrongdoers
Third speech: verses 23-30
Truthfulness of Quranic teachings concerning the punishment of disbelievers after resurrection
First subject-matter: verse 4
The creation and arrangement of the world by God
First subject-matter: verses 15-17
Characteristics of the faithful
First subject-matter: verses 23-25
Quranic teachings about resurrection being confirmed by the Torah
Second subject-matter: verses 5-6
The return of the world to God
Second subject-matter: verses 18-19
Rewards of believers in the Heaven
Second subject-matter: verses 26-27
Signs of God’s power to resurrect people and punish disbelievers
Third subject-matter: verses 5-6
One's obligation is to be grateful about God’s blessings
Third subject-matter: verses 18-19
Punishment of wrongdoers in the Hell
Third subject-matter: verses 26-27
Inevitability of the punishment of disbelievers on the day of resurrection
Fourth subject-matter: verses 5-6
Answering to the doubts of disbelievers about resurrection
Fifth subject-matter: verses 5-6
God fills the Hell with wrongdoers

Occasions of Revelations of Some Verses

There are occasions of revelations for two verses of Sura al-Sajda: verse sixteen and eighteen.

Vigilant People

Anas b. Malik, a companion of the Prophet (s), said that the verse sixteen of Sura al-Sajda, "They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration," was revealed about the Helpers including him, since they always said their Evening Prayers together with the Prophet (s) and did not return home so that they would say their 'Isha' Prayers with the Prophet (s) as well.[12]

Imam al-Baqir (a) was quoted as saying that the verse sixteen of Sura al-Sajda was revealed about Imam 'Ali (a) and his followers or Shi'as who sleep early after darkness, and when one third of the night has passed, they wake up from the fear of God and passion for His worship.[13]

Believers and Wrongdoers not Being Equal

According to Ibn Abi Layla, the verse eighteen of Sura al-Sajda, "Then is one who was a believer like one who was defiantly disobedient? They are not equal," was revealed about Walid b. 'Uqba's feeling of superiority over 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a): he told 'Ali (a) that his own tongue was wider than 'Ali's, and his own teeth were sharper than his, thus implying his superiority over Imam 'Ali (a). The Imam (a) replied: "O wrongdoer! This is not the case." After this conversation, the above verse was revealed. The hadith appears in Sunni sources as well.[14]

Exegetical Issues

There are particular exegetical issues concerning some verses of the sura, including verses four and seven.

Standing on the Throne

In his exegesis of the verse four of Sura al-Sajda, "It is Allah who created the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them in six days; then He established Himself above the Throne," 'Allama Tabataba'i takes God's standing on the Throne to be a metaphor for His arrangement of, and sovereignty over, creatures after their creation, believing that whenever the phrase is used in the Qur'an, it is followed by one of God's arrangements as an example; for example, the verse fifty four of Qur'an 7 talks about the arrangement of days and nights as they come after each other.[15] The word, "day," in the phrase, "six days," is said to mean part of time[16] or period,[17] rather than day as twenty four hours.[18]

Perfect Creation

According to Tafsir-i nimuna, the verse seven of Sura al-Sajda, "[God] perfected everything which He created," refers to the optimal system of creation. However, the question arises of how evils can be reconciled with such a perfect creation.[19] 'Allama Tabataba'i believes that every creature is perfect and optimal in its own right, although we see things as imperfect or ugly for two reasons:

  • (1) Badness or unpleasantness goes back to the absence of a perfection. For example, an oppressor's unjust action is bad not because it is an action; it is bad because it involves the absence of a right or goodness,
  • (2) Badness or ugliness arises when we compare things, whereas taken intrinsically and in itself, everything is beautiful. For example, both flowers and thorns are beautiful in themselves, but when it comes to comparison, the latter do not seem beautiful.[20]

Merits and Benefits

About the virtues of reciting Sura al-Sajda, it is said that he who recites Sura al-Sajda and Qur'an 67 is like a vigilant in the Night of Qadr. There is also a hadith according to which whoever recites Sura al-Sajda on eves of Fridays will receive the book (or record) of his actions with his right hand, will be forgiven, and will be friends with Muhammad (s) and his family.[21] As to the effects of the sura, it is said that if one writes it and carries it with him, he will be immune to fevers, headaches, and joint pains.[22]


  1. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Sajda", p. 1246.
  2. Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi Sajda," p. 741.
  3. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Mafātīḥ al-ghayb, vol. 25, p. 135.
  4. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 166.
  5. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Sajda," p. 1246.
  6. Rāmyār, Tārīkh-i Qur'ān, p. 360 and 596.
  7. Farhangnāma-yi ʿulūm-i Qurʾān, vol. 1, p. 2612.
  8. Al-Mumtahinat are sixteen suras of the Qur'an allegedly thus called by al-Suyuti. These suras consist in: Sura al-Fath, Sura al-Hashr, Sura al-Sajda, Sura al-Talaq, Sura al-Qalam, Sura al-Hujurat, Sura al-Mulk, Sura al-Taghabun, Sura al-Munafiqun, Sura al-Jumu'a, Sura al-Saff, Sura al-Jinn, Sura Nuh, Sura al-Mujadala, Sura al-Mumtahana, Sura al-Tahrim
  9. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 16, p. 243.
  10. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 17, p. 105-106.
  11. 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.
  12. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 518; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 361..
  13. Ṣadūq, Man lā yaḥḍuruh al-faqīh, vol. 1, p. 482.
  14. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 519; Muḥaqqiq, Nimūna bayyināt dar sha'n-i nuzūl-i ayāt, p. 618.
  15. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 16, p. 244.
  16. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 17, p. 362.
  17. Mughnīya, Tafsīr al-Kāshif, vol. 6, p. 178.
  18. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 17, p. 111.
  19. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 17, p. 123-124.
  20. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 16, p. 249.
  21. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 8, p. 508.
  22. Baḥrānī, Al-Burhān, vol. 4, p. 385.


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