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The Virtues of Surat Al-Anbiya'

Al-Bukhari recorded that `Abdur-Rahman bin Yazid said that `Abdullah said, "Banu Isra'il, Al-Kahf, Maryam, Ta Ha and Al-Anbiya' - they are among the earliest and most beautiful Surahs and they are my treasure.''

﴿ بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

﴿ ٱقۡتَرَبَ لِلنَّاسِ حِسَابُهُمۡ وَهُمۡ فِى غَفۡلَةٍ۬ مُّعۡرِضُونَ مَا يَأۡتِيهِم مِّن ذِڪۡرٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِم مُّحۡدَثٍ إِلَّا ٱسۡتَمَعُوهُ وَهُمۡ يَلۡعَبُونَ لَاهِيَةً۬ قُلُوبُهُمۡ‌ۗ وَأَسَرُّواْ ٱلنَّجۡوَى ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ هَلۡ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ۬ مِّثۡلُڪُمۡ‌ۖ أَفَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلسِّحۡرَ وَأَنتُمۡ تُبۡصِرُونَ قَالَ رَبِّى يَعۡلَمُ ٱلۡقَوۡلَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۖ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ بَلۡ قَالُوٓاْ أَضۡغَـٰثُ أَحۡلَـٰمِۭ بَلِ ٱفۡتَرَٮٰهُ بَلۡ هُوَ شَاعِرٌ۬ فَلۡيَأۡتِنَا بِـَٔايَةٍ۬ ڪَمَآ أُرۡسِلَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ مَآ ءَامَنَتۡ قَبۡلَهُم مِّن قَرۡيَةٍ أَهۡلَكۡنَـٰهَآ‌ۖ أَفَهُمۡ يُؤۡمِنُونَ

(1. Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness.) (2. Comes not unto them an admonition from their Lord as a recent revelation but they listen to it while they play.) (3. With their hearts occupied. Those who do wrong, conceal their private counsels, (saying): "Is this more than a human being like you Will you submit to magic while you see it'') (4. He said: "My Lord knows what is said in the heavens and on earth. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.'') (5. Nay, they say: "These are mixed up false dreams! Nay, he has invented it! -- Nay, he is a poet! Let him then bring us an Ayah like the ones that were sent before!'') (6. Not one of the towns of those which We destroyed, believed before them; will they then believe.)

The Hour is at hand but People are heedless

This is a warning from Allah of the approach of the Hour, and that people are heedless of it, i.e., they are not working for it or preparing for it. An-Nasa'i recorded that Abu Sa`id reported from the Prophet:

﴿ فِى غَفۡلَةٍ۬ مُّعۡرِضُونَ

(while they turn away in heedlessness), he said,

« فِي الدُّنْيَا »

(in this world.) Allah says:

﴿ أَتَىٰٓ أَمۡرُ ٱللَّهِ فَلَا تَسۡتَعۡجِلُوهُ‌ۚ

(The Event ordained by Allah will come to pass, so seek not to hasten it)

﴿ ٱقۡتَرَبَتِ ٱلسَّاعَةُ وَٱنشَقَّ ٱلۡقَمَرُ وَإِن يَرَوۡاْ ءَايَةً۬ يُعۡرِضُواْ

(The Hour has drawn near, and the moon has been cleft asunder. And if they see a sign, they turn away.) (54:1,2). Then Allah states that they do not listen to the revelation (Wahy) that He sends down to His Messenger , which is addressed to the Quraysh and all disbelievers like them.

﴿ مَا يَأۡتِيهِم مِّن ذِڪۡرٍ۬ مِّن رَّبِّهِم مُّحۡدَثٍ

(Comes not unto them an admonition from their Lord as a recent revelation) meaning, newly-revealed,

﴿ إِلَّا ٱسۡتَمَعُوهُ وَهُمۡ يَلۡعَبُونَ

(But they listen to it while they play.) This is like what Ibn `Abbas said, "Why do you ask the People of the Book about what they have, which has been altered and distorted, and they have added things and taken things away, when your Book is the most recently revealed from Allah, and you read it pure and unadulterated'' Al-Bukhari recorded something similar to this.

﴿ وَأَسَرُّواْ ٱلنَّجۡوَى ٱلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُواْ

(Those who do wrong, conceal their private counsels) meaning, what they say to one another in secret.

﴿ هَلۡ هَـٰذَآ إِلَّا بَشَرٌ۬ مِّثۡلُڪُمۡ‌ۖ

(Is this more than a human being like you) meaning, the Messenger of Allah. They did not believe that he could be a Prophet because he was a human being like them, so how could he have been singled out to receive revelation, and not them They said:

﴿ أَفَتَأۡتُونَ ٱلسِّحۡرَ وَأَنتُمۡ تُبۡصِرُونَ

(Will you submit to magic while you see it) meaning, will you follow him and be like one who submits to magic when he knows that it is magic Allah said in response to their fabrications and lies:

﴿ قَالَ رَبِّى يَعۡلَمُ ٱلۡقَوۡلَ فِى ٱلسَّمَآءِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۖ

(He said: "My Lord knows what is said in the heavens and on earth...'') Nothing at all is hidden from the One Who knows that, and He is the One Who reveals this Qur'an which contains news of the earliest and last generations. No one can produce the like of this except the One Who knows all the secrets of the heavens and the earth.

﴿ وَهُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلۡعَلِيمُ

(And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.) means, He hears all that they say and He knows all their circumstances. This is a warning and a threat to them.

The Disbelievers' Ideas about the Qur'an and the Messenger; their demand for a Sign and the Refutation of that
﴿ بَلۡ قَالُوٓاْ أَضۡغَـٰثُ أَحۡلَـٰمِۭ بَلِ ٱفۡتَرَٮٰهُ

(Nay, they say: "These are mixed up false dreams! Nay, he has invented it!...'') Here Allah tells us of the stubbornness and heresy of the disbelievers, and the various things they said about the Qur'an, and how they were confused and misguided about it. Sometimes they described it as magic, and sometimes they described it as poetry, or mixed up false dreams, or a fabrication. As Allah says:

﴿ ٱنظُرۡ كَيۡفَ ضَرَبُواْ لَكَ ٱلۡأَمۡثَالَ فَضَلُّواْ فَلَا يَسۡتَطِيعُونَ سَبِيلاً۬

(See what examples they have put forward for you. So they have gone astray, and never can they find a way) (17:48)

﴿ فَلۡيَأۡتِنَا بِـَٔايَةٍ۬ ڪَمَآ أُرۡسِلَ ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ

(Let him then bring us an Ayah like the ones that were sent before!) They were referring to the she-camel of Salih, and the signs of Musa and `Isa. And Allah says,

﴿ وَمَا مَنَعَنَآ أَن نُّرۡسِلَ بِٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ إِلَّآ أَن ڪَذَّبَ بِہَا ٱلۡأَوَّلُونَ‌ۚ

(And nothing stops Us from sending the Ayat but that the people of old denied them.) (17:59). So Allah said here:

﴿ مَآ ءَامَنَتۡ قَبۡلَهُم مِّن قَرۡيَةٍ أَهۡلَكۡنَـٰهَآ‌ۖ أَفَهُمۡ يُؤۡمِنُونَ

(Not one of the towns of those which We destroyed, believed before them; will they then believe) None of the peoples to whom Messengers were sent were given a sign at the hands of their Prophet and believed. On the contrary, they disbelieved and We destroyed them as a result. Would these people believe in a sign if they saw it Not at all! In fact,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ حَقَّتۡ عَلَيۡہِمۡ ڪَلِمَتُ رَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ وَلَوۡ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ ڪُلُّ ءَايَةٍ حَتَّىٰ يَرَوُاْ ٱلۡعَذَابَ ٱلۡأَلِيمَ

(Truly, those, against whom the Word of your Lord has been justified, will not believe. Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) (10:96-97). Indeed, they witnes- sed clear signs and definitive proof at the hands of the Messen- ger of Allah , signs which were far clearer and more overwhel- ming than any that had been witnessed in the case of any other Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them all.

﴿ وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا قَبۡلَكَ إِلَّا رِجَالاً۬ نُّوحِىٓ إِلَيۡہِمۡ‌ۖ فَسۡـَٔلُوٓاْ أَهۡلَ ٱلذِّڪۡرِ إِن كُنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ جَسَدً۬ا لَّا يَأۡڪُلُونَ ٱلطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُواْ خَـٰلِدِينَ ثُمَّ صَدَقۡنَـٰهُمُ ٱلۡوَعۡدَ فَأَنجَيۡنَـٰهُمۡ وَمَن نَّشَآءُ وَأَهۡلَڪۡنَا ٱلۡمُسۡرِفِينَ

(7. And We sent not before you but men to whom We revealed. So ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know.) (8. And We did not place them in bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.) (9. Then We fulfilled to them the promise. So We saved them and those whom We willed, but We destroyed Al-Musrifin.)

The Messengers are no more than Human Beings

Here Allah refutes those who denied that human Messengers could be sent:

﴿ وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا قَبۡلَكَ إِلَّا رِجَالاً۬ نُّوحِىٓ إِلَيۡہِمۡ‌ۖ

(And We sent not before you but men to whom We revealed.) meaning, all the Messengers who came before you were men, human beings. There were no angels among them. This is like the Ayat:

﴿ وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن قَبۡلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالاً۬ نُّوحِىٓ إِلَيۡہِم مِّنۡ أَهۡلِ ٱلۡقُرَىٰٓ‌ۗ

(And We sent not before you any but men unto whom We revealed, from among the people of townships) (12:109)

﴿ قُلۡ مَا كُنتُ بِدۡعً۬ا مِّنَ ٱلرُّسُلِ

(Say: "I am not a new thing among the Messengers...) (46:9) Allah tells us that the previous nations denied that and said:

﴿ أَبَشَرٌ۬ يَہۡدُونَنَا

("Shall mere men guide us'') (64:6). So Allah says here:

﴿ فَسۡـَٔلُوٓاْ أَهۡلَ ٱلذِّكۡرِ إِن كُنتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ

(So ask the people of the Reminder if you do not know.) meaning, ask the people of knowledge among the nations such as the Jews and Christians and other groups: `were the Messengers who came to you human beings or angels' Indeed they were human beings. This is a part of the perfect blessing of Allah towards His creation: He sent to them Messengers from among themselves so that they could receive the Message from them and learn from them.

﴿ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ جَسَدً۬ا لَّا يَأۡڪُلُونَ ٱلطَّعَامَ

(And We did not place them in bodies that did not eat food...) meaning, rather they had bodies that ate food, as Allah says:

﴿ وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا قَبۡلَكَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُرۡسَلِينَ إِلَّآ إِنَّهُمۡ لَيَأۡكُلُونَ ٱلطَّعَامَ وَيَمۡشُونَ فِى ٱلۡأَسۡوَاقِ‌ۗ

(And We never sent before you any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets) (25:20) meaning, they were human beings who ate and drank like all other people, and they went to the marketplaces to earn a living and engage in business; that did not affect them adversely or reduce their status in any way, as the idolators imagined.

﴿ مَالِ هَـٰذَا ٱلرَّسُولِ يَأۡڪُلُ ٱلطَّعَامَ وَيَمۡشِى فِى ٱلۡأَسۡوَاقِ‌ۙ لَوۡلَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡهِ مَلَكٌ۬ فَيَكُونَ مَعَهُ ۥ نَذِيرًا أَوۡ يُلۡقَىٰٓ إِلَيۡهِ ڪَنزٌ أَوۡ تَكُونُ لَهُ ۥ جَنَّةٌ۬ يَأۡڪُلُ مِنۡهَا‌ۚ

(And they say: "Why does this Messenger eat food, and walk about in the markets. Why is not an angel sent down to him to be a warner with him Or (why) has not a treasure been granted to him, or why has he not a garden whereof he may eat'') (25:7-8)

﴿ وَمَا كَانُواْ خَـٰلِدِينَ

(nor were they immortals) meaning, in this world; on the contrary, they lived, then they died.

﴿ وَمَا جَعَلۡنَا لِبَشَرٍ۬ مِّن قَبۡلِكَ ٱلۡخُلۡدَ‌ۖ

(And We granted not to any human being immortality before you) (21:34) But what distinguished them from others was that they received revelation from Allah, and the angels brought down to them from Allah His rulings concerning His creation, what He commanded and what He prohibited.

﴿ ثُمَّ صَدَقۡنَـٰهُمُ ٱلۡوَعۡدَ

Then We fulfilled to them the promise. the promise that their Lord made to destroy the evildoers. Allah fulfilled His promise and did that. He says:

﴿ فَأَنجَيۡنَـٰهُمۡ وَمَن نَّشَآءُ

(So We saved them and those whom We willed,) meaning, their followers among the believers,

﴿ وَأَهۡلَڪۡنَا ٱلۡمُسۡرِفِينَ

(but We destroyed Al-Musrifin.) meaning, those who disbelieved the Message brought by the Messengers.

﴿ لَقَدۡ أَنزَلۡنَآ إِلَيۡكُمۡ ڪِتَـٰبً۬ا فِيهِ ذِكۡرُكُمۡ‌ۖ أَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُونَ وَكَمۡ قَصَمۡنَا مِن قَرۡيَةٍ۬ كَانَتۡ ظَالِمَةً۬ وَأَنشَأۡنَا بَعۡدَهَا قَوۡمًا ءَاخَرِينَ فَلَمَّآ أَحَسُّواْ بَأۡسَنَآ إِذَا هُم مِّنۡہَا يَرۡكُضُونَ لَا تَرۡكُضُواْ وَٱرۡجِعُوٓاْ إِلَىٰ مَآ أُتۡرِفۡتُمۡ فِيهِ وَمَسَـٰكِنِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُسۡـَٔلُونَ قَالُواْ يَـٰوَيۡلَنَآ إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَـٰلِمِينَ فَمَا زَالَت تِّلۡكَ دَعۡوَٮٰهُمۡ حَتَّىٰ جَعَلۡنَـٰهُمۡ حَصِيدًا خَـٰمِدِينَ

(10. Indeed, We have sent down for you a Book in which there is Dhikrukum. Will you not then understand) (11. How many a town given to wrongdoing, have We destroyed, and raised up after them another people!) (12. Then, when they sensed Our torment, behold, they (tried to) flee from it.) (13. Flee not, but return to that wherein you lived a luxurious life, and to your homes, in order that you may be questioned.) (14. They cried: "Woe to us! Certainly we have been wrongdoers.'') (15. And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is reaped, extinct.)