Al-Anbiyaʼ,[1] (Arabic: الأنبياء, ’al-’anbiyā’; meaning: "The Prophets")[2] is the 21st chapter (sūrah) of the Quran with 112 verses (āyāt). Regarding the timing and contextual background of the believed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, rather than later in Medina. Its principal subject matter is prophets of the past, who also preached the same faith as Muhammad.

Sura 21 of the Quran
Al-Anbiyāʼ/ Al-Ambiyāʼ
The Prophets
PositionJuzʼ 17
Hizb no.33
No. of Rukus7
No. of verses112
Folio from Samarkand Kufic Quran with surah Al-Anbiya. Late 8th–early 9th century. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Page from the Qur'an copied by Ahmad al-Suhrawardi (1256-1340) with the fragment of the surah Al-Anbiya (verses 25nn). Illumination by Muhammad ibn Aybak. Muhaqqaq script. Baghdad, year 1307/1308. Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum


  • 1-4 The judgment of careless and mocking Quraish near
  • 5 The Makkan people regard Muhammad as “a forger”
  • 6 Miracles not performed by Muhammad because former nations received no benefit from seeing them
  • 7-8 The former prophets were but mortal men
  • 9 God favours his prophets but judges infidels
  • 10 The Quraish mentioned in the Quran
  • 11-15 The unbelieving cities and scoffers destroyed
  • 16-17 The heavens and the earth not created in play
  • 18 The truth must triumph
  • 19-22 Angels serve God, therefore not to be worshipped
  • 23 God is sovereign
  • 24 The great sin of idolatry
  • 25 All apostles testified to God’s unity
  • 26 Angels are not the daughters of God but only 'His' honoured servants[3]
  • 27-28 Angelic intercession only by divine permission
  • 29 The doom of angels who usurp divine honours
  • 30-34 God’s works the proof of his divinity 35-36 None immortal but God
  • 36-37 Muhammad regarded by the Makkans as a scoffer
  • 38-39 Men hasty to call down divine wrath on themselves
  • 40-41 Threatened vengeance will descend suddenly
  • 42-43 The doom of those who mocked former prophets
  • 44 The gods of the idolaters unable to deliver their votaries
  • 45 God will triumph over the infidels
  • 46 Muhammad only a warner
  • 47 The deaf will not hear the warnings of God
  • 48 God will judge righteously
  • 49-51 Moses and Aaron, like Muhammad, received a revelation
  • The Story of Abraham
    • 52 He receives a revelation 53-57 Reproaches his father and people with idolatry 58 He devises a plot to destroy the idols 59-60 He destroys the idols of the Chaldeans 61-62 He is accused before the people 63-64 He lays the blame on the largest idol
    • 65-66 The Chaldeans at first disposed to repent, but they draw back 67 Abraham reproaches them for their idolatry 68 They command him to be burned alive 69-70 God miraculously delivers him
    • 71-73 He receives the promise of Isaac and Jacob
  • 74-75 Lot delivered from Sodom
  • 70-77 Noah delivered from the Flood 77 The persecutors of Noah drowned
  • 78-80 The wisdom of David and Solomon 81-82 Winds and demons subject to Solomon
  • 83-84 Job is delivered from his affliction
  • 85-88 Other prophets receive mercy from God
  • 89-90 Zachariah’s prayer answered
  • 91 God’s favour to Mary and Jesus
  • 92-93 The true religion one, but Jews and Christians have sects
  • 94 The faithful certain to be rewarded
  • 95-97 Infidels to be judged at the resurrection
  • 98-100 Idolaters with their gods to be cast into hell
  • 101-103 The reward of the righteous
  • 104 The heavens to be rolled away at the judgment
  • 105-106 The righteous shall inherit the earth
  • 107-109 Muhammad proclaims himself to be a warner
  • 110-111 God knoweth the secret thoughts of the infidels
  • 112 God will judge the infidels and show mercy to his prophet [4]

Historical context

Muslims believe this sura was revealed in the Second Meccan Period and is listed as Number 65 according to the Nöldeke Chronology. Within its verses are found numerous evocations of earlier Judeo-Christian prophets. These examples help to emphasize and define Muhammad's role as a messenger within the Quranic context. Additionally, the incorporation of pre-existing Biblical and Judaic scriptures integrate Muhammad's prophetic mission into a larger religious framework, thus broadening the horizons of both the Quran as a text and Islam as a religious movement. The sura is thematically and stylistically characteristic of the Second Meccan Period. The verses identify the religious agency of Muhammad by relating him to preexisting Judeo-Christian figures, and from there illustrate common notional doctrines, such as: Islamic eschatology embodied in the Day of Judgment, the fates of the disbelievers and the believers, and the mercy of God. In terms of ordering and delivery, sura 21 contains a tripartite composition and traceable "ring structure", in which the path of revelation comes full circle through the sequence of three distinct parts.[5] Consisting of 112 verses in total, The Prophets maintains the Quran's distinctive voice, in which the verses seem conscious of their own revelation and also depend on other Suras to illustrate particular messages. This clear self-referentiality, or "self-declaration", and intertextuality are perceptibly unique to the Quran and possess the book with a consciousness distinct from other religious texts.[6]


1-40 the oneness of God

Affirm the revelation and commits Muhammad to his role as the chosen prophet. It declares the oneness of God in his creation.

41-49 the narratives of earlier prophets

Seek to draw examples of faith and righteousness through the narratives of earlier prophets. This method of revelation simultaneously thrusts the Quran upward and integrates the religious identity of Islam into a broader existing context.

73 doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah

In a letter to his companions, Ja'far al-Sadiq describes the importance of obedience to the prophets of Allah and cites the following in support of this: "And We made them Imams guiding by Our command. And We inspired to them the doing of good deeds, establishment of prayer, and giving of zakah; and they were worshippers of Us."(21:73)

92-112 divergent fates of believers and non-believers

Work to conclude the sura with another affirmation of revelation, this time through identification of the divergent fates of the believers and non-believers on the Day of Judgment. The chapter ends with a final exaltation of Allah's merciful nature.


  1. Ibn Kathir. "Tafsir Ibn Kathir (English): Surah Al Anbiyah". Quran 4 U. Retrieved 18 March 2020.
  2. Haleem, Trans. M.A.S. Abdel (2010). The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics). New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. "Surah Al-Anbya - 26".
  4. Wherry, Elwood Morris (1896). A Complete Index to Sale's Text, Preliminary Discourse, and Notes. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. Ernst, Carl W. (2011). How To Read the Quran: A New Guide, with select Translations. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 106.
  6. McAuliffe, Jane Demmen (2006). The Cambridge Companion to the Qur'an. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 3.
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