Overview - Surah 3: Ale-Imran (The Family Of Imran )

Surah Introduction

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The main topics of this Surah are Tawhid, Prophethood and the truth of the Qur' an. As Surah al-Baqarah discussed the issues related to Bani Israel, this Surah discusses some issues related to the Christian community and their religious positions. It also discusses the subjects of Hajj, Jihad, Zakat and Riba. It ends, like Surah al-Baqarah, with a profound dua.

It is named after Ale-Imran ‘the family of Imran’ – Imran being the grandfather of Jesus [Isa], and the father of Mary [Maryam]. Other than this Surah, Imran is not mentioned in the rest of the Qur’an with the exception of Surah 66: at-Tahreem – ‘Maryam daughter of Imran’ [66:12]. 

Zahra – The Prophet is reported to have called al-Baqarah and Ale-Imran as ‘Zahrawayn’ [Two Lights (of guidance)]

There are 200 Ayat in Surah Ale-Imran.

Sections:

  1. Allah is the Ever-Living, Self-Subsisting.  He sent the Qur'an as He sent before the Tawrat and Injil for the guidance of people.  True believers are those who accept every thing of the Book of Allah and try to understand it.  Believers pray always for Allah's guidance for them.
  2. Those who reject the truth, their wealth and their progeny will not avail them anything against the chastisement of Allah.
  3. Allah bears witness for His own Tawhid as well as the angels and the people of knowledge.  The religion acceptable in the sight of Allah is Islam.
  4. To love Allah one must follow the Prophet.  Obedience to Allah and His Messenger are necessary for faith.  Allah chose Adam, Noah, Family of Ibrahim and the Family of Imran to guide humanity through them. Many prophets and messengers of Allah came for this purpose.
  5. Birth of Jesus -peace be upon him- and his true message.
  6. Jesus preached the message of Tawhid. His true followers are those who recognize Tawhid. Jesus’ birth was miraculous, just as Adam’s was miraculous. Some Christians argued with the Prophet. He asked them to come for an open Mubahalah.
  7. Invitation to the People of the Book to come to a common word of Tawhid and obedience to Allah.
  8. Some People of the Book try to discredit Islam. Muslims are warned to be conscious of this challenge.
  9. Previous prophets and their scriptures confirm the truth of Islam.
  10. Charity and sacrifice are necessary to attain faith and piety. Muslims should pay attention to the Ka’bah and stand firm to give the message of Islam to the world.
  11. Muslims must remain conscious of Allah and must hold fast together the rope of Allah, i.e His Book and His guidance.
  12. Role of the Muslim Ummah in the world.
  13. Critical review of the Battle of Uhud
  14. Prohibition of Riba and emphasis on charity. Believers must hasten to seek the forgiveness from their Lord. Some beautiful characters and qualities of the believers are mentioned.
  15. Prophet Muhammad is only a Messenger of Allah like other messengers. His death should not mean giving up the faith.  Believers must persevere and be patient in difficulties.
  16. Criticism of those who showed weakness during the Battle of Uhud. Muslims should be strong in their commitment to faith.
  17. True believers and the hypocrites.  Hypocrites' delinquency at the time of Uhud
  18. Steadfast attitude of the Believers.  Shaitan tries to frighten the Believers, but the true Believers become even stronger after trials and tests.
  19. Some propaganda of the People of the Book against Islam and how to respond to such challenges.
  20. Allah’s promise of success for the Believers. How the believers should pray to Allah and seek His blessings.

Overview

Total Ayat200
Total Words *3481
Root Words *452
Unique Root Words *6
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 89th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 16th year of Prophethood (3rd Year Hijri)
Events during/before this Surah*
Battle of Uhud, Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr, Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah, , 2nd Pledge of Aqabah, 1st Pledge of Aqabah, Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2, Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1, 2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
,Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah,Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub, Musa, Zakariya, Yahya, Isa, Muhammad
Surah Index
Abraham, Abraham (neither Jew nor Christian) , Abraham (stood in first mosque at Bakkah) , Adam, Adversity (patience during) , God (ability to do anything) , God (no human is a divinity) , God (remembering him standing--- sitting--- lying down) , God (shapes you in the womb) , God (wills no wrong to His creation) , Angels, Anger (withhold) , Apostasy, Apostasy (rejection by others) , Apostasy (repentance) , Badr, Bakkah (first masjid) , Bible (distortion of) , Charity, Charity (niggardliness) , Children (of Israel) , Commandments (general religious) , Death, Death (in God’s cause) , Death (those slain in God’s cause are alive) , Disbelievers, Disbelievers (God’s promise to) , Disbelievers (relationship to belivers) , Disciples (of Jesus), Earth (creation of) , Earth (rotation of) , Food, Friends (avoid active disbelievers) , Geographic locations and History (first temple at Bakkah) , Gospel, Government (decision making in public matters) , Hajj (duty to visit Makkah) , Heaven, Heaven (pure spouses in) , Heaven (several) , Hell, History (study it) , Humankind (creation of) (from dust), Hypocrites, Iblis, Imran--- House of, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Jesus (creation of) , Jesus (disciples) , Jesus (followers above others on Resurrection day) , Jesus (his nature is as Adam’s) , Jesus (resurrection foretold) , Jews (and Christians) , Jews (slaying prophets) , Jihad, Jihad (striving hard in God’s cause) , John the Baptist, Judgement (Day) , Ka’bah, Killing, Knowledge, Knowledge (obligation upon man to obtain and impart) , Knowledge (study nature to acquire) , Kufr, Life (attraction of worldly) , Mary, Makkah (duty to visit Makkah for the Hajj) , Moses, Muhammad (only a prophet) , Native peoples (driven out of their homelands) , Noah, Pharaoh (punishment of) , Prayer (content) , Prayer (prostration) , Prophet (accept him who confirms earlier revelation) , Qur’an (some verses direct some allegorical) , Record of personal deeds, Religion, Religion (divergence of opinion) , Religion (draws together former enemies) , Religion (is self surrender to God) , Religion (use reason in) , Religious (should stay together) , Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (followers of Jesus above non-believers) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Sexes (equality of) , Sin, Torah, Uhud (battle of) , Usury (forbidden) , Zachariah

Central Theme

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Guidance. This Surah is the sequel to Surah 2: al-Baqarah (The Cow) and the invitation therein is continued to The People of the Book. In Al-Baqarah the Jews were pointedly invited to accept the Guidance and in this Surah, the Christians have particularly been admonished to give up their erroneous beliefs and accept the Guidance of the Qur'an. At the same time the Muslims have been instructed to nourish the virtues that may enable them to carry out their obligations and spread the Divine Guidance.

Oneness of God. From the very outset we have the words ‘God, there is no Ilah [diety] except He....’ (3:2). Correcting any false notions about the divinty of God and the relationships between the creation and their Creator. 

Firmness upon the truth.  From the opening of the Surah we have the dua, "Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower." (3:8). Various facets of being firm upon Islam are mentioned throughtout the Surah, whether that be firmness ideologically (references to Christian beliefs) or militarily (references to the Battle of Uhud and reasons for defeat). Being firm upon Islam requires strong patience and the Surah ends, "O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful." (3:200). 

Ways of staying steadfast:

  1. Holding firmly on the Qur'an and Sunnah. "And how could you disbelieve while to you are being recited the verses of Allah and among you is His Messenger? And whoever holds firmly to Allah has [indeed] been guided to a straight path." (3:101)
     
  2. Taqwah of Allah. "O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him]." (3:102)
     
  3. Sticking to Allah and the Jam'ah [main body of Muslims]. "And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided." (3:103)
     
  4. Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil. "And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful." (3:104)
     
  5. Not differing in the Deen. "And do not be like the ones who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come to them. And those will have a great punishment." (3:105)

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Ale-Imran - Family of Imran

The Surah is named after the ‘Family of Imran [grandfather of Jesus]’ – amongst the greatest of families in human history [3:33]. This blessed family includes the below personalities who were known for their great service of the religion of God; 

  • Imran [Father of Mary]
  • Wife of Imran [Mother of Mary]
  • Mary [Mother of Jesus]
  • Jesus [Messenger of Allah]
  • Zakariyyah [Uncle of Mary/responsible for her and a Prophet]
  • Yahyah [John the Baptist – son of Zakariyyah and a Prophet]

Zahra - Light

This Surah [along with al-Baqarah]  are lights of guidance for the Believers in their journey to God.  

Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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  • Allah does not break His promise. In the beginnig and end of the Surah, the Believer is reminded that Allah Almighty does not contravene or fail in keeping His promises. They should feel assured in this and Allah will prove to the Believer that when He promises something, He shall fulfill His promise. 

    "Our Lord, surely You will gather the people for a Day about which there is no doubt. Indeed, Allah will not break His promise." (3:9)

    " Our Lord, and grant us what You promised us through Your messengers and do not disgrace us on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, You do not break[Your] promise." (3:194)
     
  • There are profound duas in the beginning of the Surah and at the end,  Ayat (3:8-9) and (3:193-194)  
  • In the beginning of the Surah, there is a mention of the Torah and the Injeel as previous revelations (3:3) – and in in the end ‘...those who believe in God and what was revealed to you and what was revealed to them....’ (3:199)

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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Surah al-Baqarah and Ale-Imran 

  • They both begin with Alif-Lam-Meem.
  • Both end with profound Duas.
  • Both revealed in Madinah.
  • Al-Baqarah declares the Muslims as the ‘Middle Nation’ (2:143) and Ale-Imran declares the Muslims as the ‘Best nation’ (3:110) brought forth for the service of Mankind.
  • They both contain Ayaat on usury/interest. 
  • Both contain Ayaat which state the Martyrs are alive.
  • Surah al-Baqarah and Ale-Imran are the only Surahs of the Qur'an (2:96) (3:185) which have the root word زُحْزِحَ
  • The first mention of Jannah in both Surah al-Baqarah  and Ale-Imran mention Azwaj un Mutaharah 'Purified Spouses.' In (2:25) and (3:15).
  • The question, "Do you think you will enter Jannah (without)...." appears in both Surahs (not occuring anywhere else in the Qur'an)
    "Do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you?" (2:214)
    "Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet made evident those of you who fight in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast?" (3:142)

Many Surahs can be grouped in pairs, examples; Surah al-Falaq and an-Nas, Surah ad-Duha and Insharah, Surah Muzzamil and Mudathir, Surah al-Anfal and at-Tawbah, Surah ar-Rahman and al-Waqiah and here in this example, Surah al-Baqarah and Ale-Imran. Indeed, the Prophet is reported to have described both Surahs as 'Zahrawayn' (Two Lights of Guidance) - Lights of guidance for the Believers in their journey to God.

Just as a Surah is a self-contained whole, the interaction of Surah-pairs and not simply of individual Surahs, yield a wider, richer perspective for the study of the relationship between Qur’anic Surahs. This pairing is on the basis of the topics discussed, and each member of a pair has a complementary relation with one another.

The Virtues of the Surah

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  • The Prophet said, “Recite the Qur'an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite It. Recite the two bright ones, al-Baqara and Surah Al 'Imran, for on the Day of Resurrection they will come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks, pleading for those who recite them....” [Sahih Muslim no. 804]
     
  • وعن النواس بن سمعان رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول‏:‏ ‏ "‏يؤتى يوم القيامة بالقرآن وأهله الذين كانو يعملون به في الدنيا تقدمه سورة البقرة وآل عمران تحاجان عن صاحبهما ‏

    An-Nawwas bin Sam'an reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, "The Qur'an and its people who applied it, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection preceded with Surat Al-Baqarah and Surat Al-'Imran arguing on behalf of those who applied them." [Saheeh Muslim]

  • On the authority of Abu Ummamah that the Messeneger of Allah said, ‘ The Greatest Name of Allah by which if He is supplicated will be answered is in three Surahs, al-Baqarah, Ale-Imran and Taha.....i.e. al-Hayyu al-Qayyum.’ [Mustradak al-Hakim no. 1867]

  • Virtue of the end of the Surah. Bilal [ra] came to the Messenger of Allah to awaken him for Salah al-Fajr and he saw him crying. He said, "O Messenger of Allah why are you crying? Indeed, Allah has forgiven you your previous and future sins." The Messenger replied, "Waiyhak O Bilal, what will prevent me from crying whereas Allah has revealed upon me this night these Ayat, "Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding" (3:190)....[until the end of the Surah]. Then he said, "Woe to the one who recites these Ayat and does not reflect upon them." [Ibn Hibban]

Special Features of the Surah

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  • Submission - words derived from S-L-M – appear most in this Surah compared with the rest of the Qur’an. The most frequent these root letters ever appear in a single Ayat also occurs in this Surah. Allah Almighty says, "So if they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, "Have you submitted yourselves?" And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants." [3:20].

Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • This Surah has the most repition of the phrase ‘La ilaha ilaAllah’ – It occurs four times – (3:2), (3:6), (3:18), (3:62) 
  • Words derived from S-L-M – appear most in this Surah compared with the rest of the Qur’an. The most frequent these root letters ever appear in a single Ayat also occurs in this Surah. Allah Almighty says, "So if they argue with you, say, "I have submitted myself to Allah [in Islam], and [so have] those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture and [to] the unlearned, "Have you submitted yourselves?" And if they submit [in Islam], they are rightly guided; but if they turn away - then upon you is only the [duty of] notification. And Allah is Seeing of [His] servants." [3:20]
  • This is the only Surah in the Qur'an where the word رَمْزًا [signs, gestures] appears [3:41]
  • This is the only Surah in the Qur'an where the word تَدَّخِرُونَ [store] appears [3:49]
  • The triliteral root mīm ḥā ṣād م ح ص [purify, purge] only occurs in Surah Al-Imran occuring twice [3:141] and [3:154]
  • Words from h-s-b  ح س ب [account, calculate, think] appear most in Surah Ale-Imran compared to all other Surahs.
  • Sabr (patience), Taqwa and Iman (faith) are key words in themes mentioned throughout Surah Ale-Imran.
  • "O Lord" رَبَّنَا   - This, a common begining of many duas, is used 9 times in the Surah. It is the highest occurance of this compared to any other Surah of the Qur'an.
  • Ayat (3:154) is the longest Ayat of Surah Ale-Imran with 75 words,

    ثُمَّ أَنزَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن بَعْدِ الْغَمِّ أَمَنَةً نُّعَاسًا يَغْشَىٰ طَائِفَةً مِّنكُمْ ۖ وَطَائِفَةٌ قَدْ أَهَمَّتْهُمْ أَنفُسُهُمْ يَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّـهِ غَيْرَ الْحَقِّ ظَنَّ الْجَاهِلِيَّةِ ۖ يَقُولُونَ هَل لَّنَا مِنَ الْأَمْرِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۗ قُلْ إِنَّ الْأَمْرَ كُلَّهُ لِلَّـهِ ۗ يُخْفُونَ فِي أَنفُسِهِم مَّا لَا يُبْدُونَ لَكَ ۖ يَقُولُونَ لَوْ كَانَ لَنَا مِنَ الْأَمْرِ شَيْءٌ مَّا قُتِلْنَا هَاهُنَا ۗ قُل لَّوْ كُنتُمْ فِي بُيُوتِكُمْ لَبَرَزَ الَّذِينَ كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقَتْلُ إِلَىٰ مَضَاجِعِهِمْ ۖ وَلِيَبْتَلِيَ اللَّـهُ مَا فِي صُدُورِكُمْ وَلِيُمَحِّصَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ "Then after distress, He sent down upon you security [in the form of] drowsiness, overcoming a faction of you, while another faction worried about themselves, thinking of Allah other than the truth - the thought of ignorance, saying, "Is there anything for us [to have done] in this matter?" Say, "Indeed, the matter belongs completely to Allah." They conceal within themselves what they will not reveal to you. They say, "If there was anything we could have done in the matter, some of us would not have been killed right here." Say, "Even if you had been inside your houses, those decreed to be killed would have come out to their death beds." [It was] so that Allah might test what is in your breasts and purify what is in your hearts. And Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts. " (3:154)
 
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *