Sura al-Zumar

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Sura al-Zumar
Sad ← →Ghafir
سوره زمر.jpg
Sura Number 39
Juz' 23/24
Revelation Number 59
Makki/Madani Makki
Verse Count 75
Word Count 1180
Letter Count 4871

Sūra al-Zumar (Arabic: سورة الزمر) is the thirty ninth sura of the Qur'an. It is one of the Makki suras placed in the twenty third and twenty fourth juz' of the Qur'an. The title Zumar ("groups") is taken from verses seventy one and seventy three in the sura, where the word appears to refer to the two groups of the people of Paradise and the people of Hell.

Sura al-Zumar includes themes such as resurrection, the fruits of the belief in the Oneness of God, glorifying Him, and the fact that human beings remember God and implore Him when they are afflicted, but when He saves them from the affliction, they forget Him.

Among the famous verses of the sura is verse fifty three, which instructs people never to lose their hope in God's mercy. The sura occupies nearly one sixtieth of the Quran.

As to the merits of reciting Sura al-Zumar, it is reported that on the Day of Judgment God will not make those who recite it hopeless and will grant them the reward of those who fear Him.


  • Naming

The title of the sura, "al-Zumar" (groups), is taken from its seventy first and seventy third verses where the word zumar appears to refer to two groups: the people of Paradise and the people of Hell. Another title for Sura al-Zumar is "Ghuraf" (rooms) which is taken from its twenty first verse. The sura is also called Sura al-Arab, since its twenty eighth verse uses the adjective "Arabic" for the Qur'an.[1]

  • Place and Order of Revelation

Sura al-Zumar is the fifty-ninth sura of the Qur'an, revealed to the Prophet (s) in Mecca. In the current sequence of suras, it is the thirty ninth sura, placed in the twenty third and twenty fourth juz' of the Qur'an.[2]

  • Number of Verses and Characteristics

Sura al-Zumar has seventy five verses, 1180 words, and 4871 letters. In terms of its length, it is one of the mathani suras, occupying nearly one-sixtieth of the Qur'an.[3]


The main message of the sura is calling to monotheism and sincerity in worship.[4] It begins with enumerating the fruits of monotheism and rejecting the idea of God having a son. It commands the Prophet (s) to keep his faith pure, reject the gods of the polytheists, and announce to them that he has been commanded to be a monotheist and to be sincere in his faith.

Among the other themes mentioned in Sura al-Zumar are the fact that people usually turn to God when they are in need but then they forget, arguing for God's unity of lordship based, comparison between the believers and polytheists, mentioning the characteristics of believers and giving them glad tidings about the blessings of the hereafter, warning the polytheists about their ill-fated path and the punishment that awaits them in this world and the hereafter, and describing the resurrection and the hereafter with vivid imagery.[5]

Content of Sura al-Zumar[6]
Calling to Tawhid
First part: verses 1-9
Supporting monotheism
Second part: verses 10-35
The Prophet's (s) mission to call the people to monotheism
Third part: verses 36-52
Arguments for God's rule over the world and the powerlessness of the idols
Fourth part: verses 53-66
Calling the polytheists to repent and receive God's mercy
Fifth part: verses 67-75
God's rule in the hereafter as a manifestation of tawhid
Introduction: verses 1-2
The Prophet (s) worships God only
First duty: verse 10
Calling the people to taqwa (God-wariness)
First reason: verses 36-37
The inability of the idols to harm the Prophet (s)
First issue: verses 53-54
Do not lose hope in God's mercy
First issue: verse 67
The world losing its order by the will of God
First reason: verses 3-4
God does not have any partners or children
Second duty: verses 11-12
Proclaiming God's command to be monotheists
Second reason: verses 38-41
The powerlessness of the idols before God
Second issue: verses 55-59
Follow the Qur'an so that you do not regret in the hereafter
Second issue: verse 68
Death and coming to life of all beings by God's command
Second reason: verse 5
The creation and regulation of the world belongs to God
Third duty: verses 13-16
Warning against the punishment of polytheists in the hereafter
Third reason: verse 42
The life and death of mankind is in God's hands
Third issue: verses 60-61
Disgracefulness of the polytheists in the hereafter
Third issue: verses 69-70
Reckoning the deeds of all people by God's command
Third reason: verse 6
The creation of human beings and the direction of their affairs belongs to God
Fourth duty: verses 17-20
Mentioning the reward of monotheists in the hereafter
Fourth reason: verses 43-45
The true helper and intercessor is God
Fourth issue: verses 62-63
Polytheism, the source of harm
Fourth issue: verses 71-72
Sending the disbelievers to hell by God's command
Fourth reason: verse 7
Monotheism is to the benefit of people
Fifth duty: verses 21-23
Reminding the wise of the signs of God's unicity
Fifth reason: verses 46-48
The punishment in the hereafter is under God's control
Fifth issue: verses 64-66
Polytheism, the cause of the fruitlessness of deeds
Fifth issue: verses 73-74
Sending the believers to Paradise by God's command
Fifth reason: verse 8
Polytheism is a sign of ungratefulness
Sixth duty: verses 24-35
Warning the polytheists about their punishment in the hereafter
Sixth reason: verses 49-52
All the blessings come from God
Sixth issue: verse 75
Angels obeying God on the Day of Judgment
Sixth reason: verse 9
Worshiping God is a sign of wisdom

Occasions of the Revelation of Some Verses

Verses 17 and 18

The revelation of the verses seventeen and eighteen is said to have been related to Zayd b. Amr, Abu Dhar al-Ghifari, and Salman al-Farsi, who used to say, la ilaha illa Allah" (There is no god but Allah) constantly in the Age of Ignorance.[7]

Verse 22

The first part of verse twenty two is said to have been revealed referring to Hamza and Imam Ali (a), who readily embraced Islam, and the second part of the verse ("So woe to those whose hearts have been hardened to the remembrance of Allah..") reportedly refers to Abu Lahab and his children who refused Islam due to their hard-heartedness.[8]

Verse 53

Several referents have been reported for the word "My servants" in this verse:

  • Wahshi, who killed Hamza, the Prophet's (s) uncle in the battle of Uhud.[9]
  • A youth who used to steal burial shrouds and, on one occasion, committed adultery with a corpse.[10]
  • The Meccans who used to worship idols and commit other sins.[11]

Well-Known Verses

Verse 7

This verse illustrates God's justice, based on which no one will bear another person's burden of sins.[12]

Verse 6

The "threefold darkness" in this verse is said to refer to the darkness of the belly, womb, and amniotic sac. Some commentators, however, believe that it refers to the amniotic sac alone, which consists of three thick layers. This verse is considered one of the verses that show the miraculous nature of the Qur'an in scientific aspects.[13]

Verse 18

Praising those servants of God who listen to different sayings and then follow the best of them, this verse is understood as illustrating the value of free thinking in Islam.

Verse 30

This verse is addressed to the Prophet (s). It indicates that death is an experience that all human beings, including the Prophet (s), go through, and there is no exception in this regard.[14]

Verse 53

This verse, with its affectionate tone, proclaims that God is ready to embrace all sinners with His forgiveness. According to a hadith from Imam Ali (a), no verse of the Qur'an is as inclusive as this verse, since it encompasses all sins.[15]

Merits and Benefits

It is reported that whoever recites this sura, God will not make him hopeless on the Day of Judgment and will grant him the reward of those who fear Him.[16] In another hadith, Imam al-Sadiq (a) is reported to have said, "God will grant the one who recites Sura al-Zumar and pronounces its words calmly the honor of this world and the hereafter and will make him venerable, not through wealth or kinsfolk, such that whoever sees him reveres him, and He shall prohibit hellfire to burn his body."[17]


  1. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Zumar," vol. 2, p. 1248.
  2. Maʿrifat, Āmūzish-i ʿulūm Qurʾān, vol. 2, p. 166.
  3. Khurramshāhī, "Sura-yi Zumar," vol. 2, p. 1248.
  4. Ṣafawī, "Sura-yi Zumar," p. 738.
  5. Ṭabāṭabāyī, al-Mīzān, vol. 17, p. 354.
  6. 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.
  7. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 770; Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 382.
  8. Wāḥidī, Asbāb nuzūl al-Qurān, p. 383.
  9. Qummī, Safīnat al-biḥār, vol. 2, p. 637; Ḥuwayzī, Tafsīr nūr al-thaqalayn, vol. 4, p. 491.
  10. Abū l-Futūḥ al-Rāzī, Rawḍ al-Jinān wa Rawḥ al-Janān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān, vol. 16, p. 338-339.
  11. Fakhr al-Rāzī, Tafsīr al-Kabīr, vol. 27, p. 4.
  12. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 18, p. 225.
  13. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 19, p. 379.
  14. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 19, p. 446.
  15. Makārim Shīrāzī, Tafsīr-i nimūna, vol. 19, p. 521.
  16. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 8, p. 381.
  17. Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa, vol. 6, p. 254.

External Links


  • Abū l-Futūḥ al-Rāzī, Ḥusayn b. 'Alī. Rawḍ al-Jinān wa Rawḥ al-Janān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Mashhad: Bunyād-i Pazhūhisha-yi Islamī Āstān-i Quds-i Raḍawī, 1376 Sh.
  • Ḥuwayzī, ʿAbd ʿAlī b. al-Jumʿa al-. Tafsīr nūr al-thaqalayn. Qom: ʿIsmā'ilīyān, 1415 AH.
  • Baḥrānī, Sayyid Hāshim. Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. First Edition. Tehran: Bunyād-i Bi'that, 1416 AH.
  • Ḥurr al-ʿĀmilī, Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-. Wasāʾil al-Shīʿa. Qom: Muʾassisat Āl al-Bayt, 1414 AH.
  • Khurramshāhī,Bahāʾ al-Dīn. Ḥafiznama. Nāshir Ilmī Farhangī: 1393 Sh. [n.p].
  • Khurramshāhī, Qawām al-Dīn. "Sūra-yi Zumar" in Dānishnāma-yi Qurʾān wa Qurʾān pazhūhī. Tehran: Dūstān-Nāhīd, 1377 Sh.
  • Ṭabāṭabāyī, Mūhammad Ḥusayn. Al-Mīzān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Translated to Farsi by Mūsawī Hamidānī. Fifth edition. Qom: Daftar-i Intishārāt-i Islāmī, 1374 Sh.
  • Ṭabrisī, Faḍl b. al-Ḥasan al-. Majmaʿ al-bayān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Tehran: Nāṣir Khusru, 1371 Sh.
  • Qummī, Shaykh ʿAbbās. Safīnat al-biḥār wa madīnat al-ḥikam wa l-āthār. Qom: 'Uswa, 1414 AH.
  • Makārim Shīrāzī, Nāṣir. Tafsīr-i nimūna. 1st ed. Tehran: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmīyya, 1374 Sh.