Surah al-Anbiya' (The Prophets ) 21 : 69

قُلْنَا يَٰنَارُ كُونِى بَرْدًا وَسَلَٰمًا عَلَىٰٓ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
We [i.e., Allāh] said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham."

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

A different word, however, was also said at this point to render everything they said meaningless, and to reduce their schemes to nothingness. This was the supreme word that can never be countered. And thus the fire was cool and a source of inner peace for Abraham to enjoy and relax in.

How is this possible? Yet why do we even ask about this when it is only the word, ‘be’, that needs to be said for worlds and universes to come into existence and for universal rules to be set in operation: “When He wills a thing to be, He only says to it, ‘Be’– and it is.” (36: 82) We do not need to ask how the fire soothed rather than burnt Abraham when it is a well known phenomenon that fire burns all living tissues. For it was the One who said to the fire in the first place, ‘burn’ who also said to it in this instance, ‘be cool and a source of inner peace’. It is the same word that initiates its object at the moment it is said, whatever that object may be, whether it is familiar to us or not.

Those who compare God’s actions to those of human beings are the ones who ask how this could happen. On the other hand, those of us who understand that the two are widely different in both their nature and the means they employ neither ask such questions, nor do we try to find explanations, scientific or otherwise. The question is not one for analyses and explanations by human standards. Any method that tries to explain such miracles except by reference to God’s absolute power suffers a basic defect. God’s actions cannot be subjected to human standards or explained within the confines of man’s limited knowledge.

All we need to do is to believe that this actually took place, because the One who did it is able to make it happen. What He did to the fire to make it cool so that it gave Abraham inner peace, and what He did to Abraham so that the fire did not burn him are points the Qur’ān does not explain because our limited minds fall short of understanding them. On the other hand, we have no source of evidence other than the Qur’ānic text.

Transforming the fire so as to give Abraham coolness and inner peace is only one example of God’s infinite ability, even though they may not be totally contrary to what we are familiar with, as this one. There are countless other difficulties and circumstances that beset individuals and communities which, if allowed to run their course, would cause their total ruin. But then God administers just a small touch to bring about life instead of death, happiness instead of misery, and endless goodness instead of unmitigated evil. Thus we see how the command that made the fire cool, bringing peace to Abraham is frequently repeated in the life of individuals, groups and communities, as well as in the life of ideas and beliefs. This command is only a manifestation of the word which renders any scheme, effort or design futile, because it is the final say by the highest power.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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According to  Ibn Attiyah and Qurtubi there is consensus on this Surah being a Makki Surah -

"Both the subject matter and the style of the Surah indicate that it was sent down in the third stage of the life of the Prophet at Makkah" [Ref: Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

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12. External Links

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