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Sura 21
Aya 1

Chapter 21

The Prophetsal-Anbiyāʾ ( الأنبياء )

112 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that mentions the names of sixteen of The Prophets and Mary, illustrating the unity of the divine message. Accounts of several prophets (anbiyāʾ) appear in this surah from verse 48 ff., hence its name. The surah stresses that fact that Muḥammad is a man like earlier prophets, and has been given the same message to declare the unity of God. It warns the disbelievers of the approaching Judgement from which there is no escape.«

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

اقتَرَبَ لِلنّاسِ حِسابُهُم وَهُم في غَفلَةٍ مُعرِضونَ

Muhammad Asad

THE MAIN theme of this surah - which according to the 'Itqan belongs to the last group of the Meccan revelations - is the stress on the oneness, uniqueness and transcendence of God and on the fact that this truth has always been the core of all prophetic revelation, "the essence of all that you ought to bear in mind" (verse 10), and which man only too often forgets: for "the deaf [of heart] will not hearken to this call, however often they are warned" (verse 45), and "but listen to it with playful amusement, their hearts set on passing delights" (verses 2-3). The repeated allusions to some of the prophets of old, all of whom preached the same fundamental truth, provide the title of this surah. The stories of those prophets are meant to illustrate the continuity and intrinsic unity of all divine revelation and of man's religious experience: hence, addressing all who believe in Him. God says, "Verily, this community of yours is one single community, since I am the Sustainer of you all" (verse 92), thus postulating the brotherhood of all true believers, whatever their outward designation, as a logical corollary of their belief in Him - the belief that "your God is the One and Only God" (verse 108).
CLOSER DRAWS unto men their reckoning: and yet they remain stubbornly heedless [of its approach].1
  • Lit., "and yet in [their] heedlessness they are obstinate (mu'ridun)".