Surah al-Mu’minun, Chapter 23
Surah al-Mu’minun (The Believers) (23)
(Revealed in Mecca)
118 verses in 6 sections
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful
There are many virtues have been stated about this Sura in the recorded narrations quoted from the Prophet (S) and the Imams (as).
On the virtue of reciting this Sura, for example, Imam Sadiq (as) says:
“Frequent recitation of this Sura, especially on Fridays, brings bliss in this world and the Hereafter, and it also leads to the enjoyment of the company of the Divine prophets in the lofty Paradise.”1
In a tradition by the Prophet (S), we read:
“On the Day of Hereafter, the angels will give whoever recites Sura al-Mu’minun good tidings about the breath of life and a Garden of delight, and when the Angel of Death comes to take his soul, he will give him such good tidings that he will be delighted.”2
Imam Sadiq also said:
“Whoever reads Sura al-Mu’minun and continues reading it every Friday, Allah will render the end of his life blissful and his place will be raised high in Paradise alongside the prophets and the messengers.”3
It is necessary to reiterate this point that mentioning the virtues of reciting the Suras of the Qur’an never means reading them without pondering upon them and practicing them, for this heavenly Book is a book with a practical program for the training and education of man.
If someone really harmonizes his practical and doctrinal programs with the content of this Sura, or even with a few of the verses which are found at the beginning of it that refer to the attributes of the believers, on the Day of Judgment, all these glories will certainly be granted to him.
Thus, in some Islamic narrations we read that when the first verses of this Sura were revealed, the Prophet (S) said:
“Ten verses have been revealed to me (that) whoever puts them into practice will enter Paradise.”4
Using the Arabic word /’aqama/ (put into practice) instead of the word /qara’a/ (recite) refers to the same fact mentioned above, that the main aim is not only bare reading them but applying the meaning of these verses to everyday life.
As the name of this Sura suggests, its content is mostly about the special attributes of the believers, and, at the end, it mentions some statements upon the beliefs and practice that complete these attributes.
The contents of this Sura can be divided into seven parts:
Beginning with the noble verse:
“Successful indeed are the believers”
and continuing for several verses afterwards, this Sura mentions some of the attributes that lead to the salvation and deliverance of the believers. These practical attributes are so comprehensive and accurate that they also cover various aspects of social and personal life.
Since their essence is totally belief and monotheism, these verses proceed to mention the different signs of knowing Allah and His signs in the macrocosm and microcosm of the world of existence. It recounts some examples of the wonderful system of the world of creation, such as the sky, the earth, and the creation of man, plants and animals.
To complete the practical dimensions of the noble Sura, the verses here cite the instructive biography of some of the great prophets such as Noah, Hud, Moses, and Jesus (peace be on them) as a few examples by mentioning certain aspects of their lives.
This part addresses the arrogant, sometimes by appealing to their logical reason and sometimes by warning them in harsh tones in order to arouse the consciences of the receptive ones and find their way back to Allah.
This part contains some concise discussions on the subject of Resurrection.
It speaks about both Allah’s Sovereignty over the world of existence and irresistibility of His command over the entire universe.
The Resurrection, the weighing of deeds, the reward for those who do right and the punishment for those who do wrong are again mentioned here, and the noble Sura ends by mentioning the aim of the creation of man.
Thus, the content of this holy Sura is a collection of some cognitive issues that encourages us to reflect, and the doctrinal and practical lessons, and from the beginning of the Sura to the end talk about the entire path the believers must pave.
As was mentioned before, this holy Sura was revealed in Mecca, yet some commentators of the holy Qur’an have said that some of its verses had been revealed in Medina. This is because it contains a verse that refers to the alms-tax (zakat).
Since the alms-tax was legislated for the first time in Medina, this fact has led them to think that the complete Sura could not have been revealed in Mecca, because it is known that alms-tax was at first legislated in Medina and after the revelation of the verse:
“...Take alms out of their possessions...”5,
the Prophet (S) ordered alms-tax collectors to go around and collect this tax from the people.
With respect to this issue we must be aware, however, that the alms-tax also has a general meaning that includes both obligatory and recommended alms-taxes. Its meaning is not limited to the obligatory alms-tax alone, for we see in the Islamic narrations that the ritual prayer and the payment of this tax have often been mentioned together.
A narration by Imam Sadiq and Imam Baqir (as) says:
“Allah has made the alms-tax along with the ritual prayer obligatory.”6
Moreover, some Islamic scholars believe that the alms-tax had, also been obligatory in Mecca, but it was general and undefined, meaning that every one was obliged to give some part of his possessions to the needy.
When the Islamic government was established in Medina, a precise system was devised for regulating, collecting and distributing the alms-tax along with specifying the minimum value of property upon which it should be levied and collected by the Prophet’s agents.