Al-Anbiyāʼ, properly pronounced: Al-Ambiyāʼ (Arabic: الْأَنْبِيَاء, "The Prophets")[1] is the 21st chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 112 verses (āyāt). Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, instead of 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
← Ta-Ha
Al-Hajj →

Historical contextEdit

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 Qur'anic 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 Qur'an 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.[2] Consisting of 112 verses in total, The Prophets maintains the Qur'an'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 Qur'an and possess the book with a consciousness distinct from other religious texts.[3]

Structure and contentEdit

Verses 1-40 Affirm the revelation and commits Muhammad to his role as the chosen prophet. It declares the oneness of God in his creation.

Verses 41-91 Seek to draw examples of faith and righteousness through the narratives of earlier prophets. This method of revelation simultaneously thrusts the Qur'an upward and integrates the religious identity of Islam into a broader existing context.

Verses 92-112 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.


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)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Haleem, Trans. M.A.S. Abdel (2010). The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics). New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. ^ Ernst, Carl W. (2011). How To Read the Qur'an: A New Guide, with select Translations. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. p. 106.
  3. ^ McAuliffe, Jane Demmen (2006). The Cambridge Companion to the Qur'an. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 3.

External linksEdit