Surah ar-Rum (The Romans) 30 : 30

فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا ۚ فِطْرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا ۚ لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ ٱللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ


 Muhsin Khan
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
So direct your face [i.e., self] toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allāh upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allāh. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

Now the sūrah directs the Prophet to remain steady in following the divine faith which is consistent and based on the pure nature God has given to people. It is a single faith that cannot be pulled in different directions, like the unbelievers who were divided into groups and factions according to their desires. This directive to follow the true faith is given at the right time and the proper place, following the great round of signs drawn from the universe and the human soul. It thus addresses hearts that are ready to receive it, while those that have followed deviant beliefs find all their arguments devoid of substance. They stand alone without support. This is the powerful authority that is the Qur’ān and which no heart or mind can resist.

“Set your face steadily towards the true faith, turning away from all that is false,” and move straight towards it, for it protects you from the influence of divergent desires that have no right basis and which rely on no true knowledge. They are subject only to whim and passion, lacking control or evidence. When you set your face steadily towards true faith, you turn away from everything else. This is “in accordance with the natural disposition which God has installed into man.” Thus the sūrah links human nature with the nature of this faith. Both are made by God, in accordance with the law of existence; both are mutually harmonious in their natures and objectives. It is God who has created man and revealed this religion so that it can regulate human life and conduct its affairs, healing man of ills and deviation. God certainly knows best what He has created. Human nature is set on a firm basis, and so is divine religion. “Nothing can change God’s creation.” When people deviate from the proper path of nature, only divine religion turns them back to it, since it is in full harmony with both human and universal nature. “Such is the ever-true faith; but most people do not know it.” Because they do not know, they follow their desires and deviate from the true path that leads to true happiness.

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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The period of the revelation of this Surah is determined absolutely by the historical event mentioned at the outset of this Surah. It says: “The Romans have been defeated in the neighbouring land.” In those days the Byzantine occupied territories adjacent to Arabia were Jordan, Syria and Palestine and in these territories the Romans were completely overpowered by the Persians in 615 C.E. Therefore it can be said with absolute certainty that this Surah was sent down in the same year and this was the year in which the migration to Abyssinia took place.

8. Reasons for Revelation

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The prediction made in the initial verses of this Surah is one of the most outstanding evidences of the Qur’an’s being the Word of God and the Prophet Muhammad’s being a true Messenger of God. Let us have a look at the historical background relevant to the verses.

Eight years before the Prophet’s advent as a Prophet the Byzantine Emperor Maurice was overthrown by Phocus who captured the throne and became king. Phocus first executed the Emperor’s five sons in front of the Emperor and then had the Emperor executed as well. Their heads were put on display on a public road in Constantinople. A few days after this he had the Empress and her three daughters also put to death. The event provided Khusrau Parvez the Sassanid king of Persia; a good moral excuse to attack Byzantium. For Emperor Maurice had been his benefactor; with his help he had got the throne of Persia. Therefore he declared that he would avenge his godfather’s and his children’s murder upon Phocus the usurper. So he started war against Byzantium in 603 C.E. Within a few years of putting the Phocus armies to rout in succession he reached Edessa (modern Urfa) in Asia Minor on the one front and Aleppo and Antioch in Syria on the other. When the Byzantine ministers saw that Phocus could not save the country they sought the African governor’s help who sent his son Heraclius to Constantinople with a strong fleet. Phocus was immediately deposed and Heraclius made emperor. He treated Phocus as he had treated Maurice. This happened in 610 C.E. the year the Prophet was appointed to Prophethood.

The moral excuse for which Khusrau Parvez had started the war was no more valid after the deposition and death of Phocus. Had the object of his war really been to avenge the murder of his ally Phocus for his cruelty he would have come to terms with the new Emperor after the death of Phocus. However he continued the war and proclaimed it as a battle between Zoroastrianism and Christianity. The sympathies of the Christian sects (i.e. Nestorians and Jacobians etc.) which had been excommunicated by the Roman ecclesiastical authority and tyrannized for years also went with the Magian (Zoroastrian) invaders and the Jews also joined hands with them; so much so that the number of the Jews who enlisted in Khusrau’s army rose up to 26,000.

Heraclius could not stop this storm. The very first news that he received from the East after ascending the throne was that of the Persian occupation of Antioch. After this Damascus fell in 613 C.E. Then in 614 C.E. the Persians occupying Jerusalem played havoc with the Christian world. Ninety thousand Christians were massacred and the Holy Sepulchre was desecrated. The Original Cross on which according to the Christian belief Jesus had died was seized and carried to Mada’in. The chief priest Zacharia was taken prisoner and all the important churches of the city were destroyed. How puffed up was Khusrau Parvez at this victory can be judged from the letter that he wrote to Heraclius from Jerusalem. He wrote: “From Khusrau the greatest of all gods, the master of the whole world: To Heraclius his most wretched and most stupid servant: ‘You say that you have trust in your Lord. Why didn’t then your Lord save Jerusalem from me?’”

Within a year after this victory the Persian armies over-ran Jordan, Palestine and the whole of the Sinai Peninsula and reached the frontiers of Egypt. In those very days another conflict of a far greater historical consequence was going on in Makkah. The believers in One God under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad were fighting for their existence against the followers of polytheism (Shirk) under the command of the chiefs of the Quraysh and the conflict had reached such a stage that in 615 C.E. a substantial number of the Muslims had to leave their homes and take refuge with the Christian kingdom of Abyssinia which was an ally of the Byzantine Empire. In those days the Sassanid victories against Byzantium were the talk of the town, and the pagans of Makkah were delighted and were taunting the Muslims to the effect: “Look the fire worshipers of Persia are winning victories and the Christian believers in Revelation and Prophethood are being routed everywhere. Likewise, we, the idol worshipers of Arabia, will exterminate you and your religion.”

These were the conditions when this Surah of the Qur’an was revealed, and in it a prediction was made, saying: “The Byzantines have been defeated. In the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome. Within three to nine years. To God belongs the command before and after. And that day the believers will rejoice. In the victory of God. He gives victory to whom He wills, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Merciful.” It contained not one but two predictions: First, the Romans shall be Victorious; and second, the Muslims also shall win a victory at the same time. Apparently, there was not a remote chance of the fulfilment of the either prediction in the next few years. On the one hand, there were a handful of the Muslims, who were being beaten and tortured in Makkah, and even after eight years of this prediction being made there appeared no chance of their victory and domination. On the contary, the Romans were losing more and more ground every next day. By 619 C.E. the whole of Egypt had passed into Sassanid hands and the Magian armies had reached as far as Tripoli. In Asia Minor they beat and pushed back the Romans to Bosporus, and in 617 C.E. they captured Chalcedon (modern, Kadikoy) just opposite Constantinople. The Emperor sent an envoy to Khusrau, praying that he was ready to have peace on any terms, however he replied, “I shall not give protection to the emperor until he is brought in chains before me and gives up obedience to his crucified god and adopts submission to the fire god.” At last, the Emperor became so depressed by defeat that he decided to leave Constantinople and shift to Carthage (modern, Tunis). The conditions were such that no one could even imagine that the Byzantine Empire would ever gain an upper hand over Persia. Not to speak of gaining domination, no one could hope that the Empire, under the circumstances, would even survive.

When these verses of the Qur’an were sent down, the disbelievers of Makkah made great fun of them, and Ubayy bin Khalaf bet Abu Bakr ten camels if the Romans became victorious within three years. When the Prophet came to know of the bet, he said, “The Qur’an has used the words bid-i-sinin, and the word bid in Arabic applies to a number up to ten. Therefore, make the bet for ten years and increase the number of camels to a hundred.” So, Abu Bakr spoke to Ubayy again and bet a hundred camels for ten years.

In 622 C.E. as the Prophet migrated to Madinah, the Emperor Heraclius set off quietly for Trabzon from Constantinople via the Black Sea and started preparations to attack Persia from the rear. For this he asked the Church for money, Pope Sergius lent him the Church collections on interest, in a bid to save Christianity from Zoroastrianism. Heraclius started his counter attack in 623 C.E. from Armenia. The following year, in 624 C.E., he entered Azerbaijan and destroyed Clorumia, the birthplace of Zoroaster, and ravaged the principal fire temple of Persia. Great are the powers of God, this was the very year when the Muslims achieved a decisive victory at Badr for the first time against the polytheists. Thus both the predictions made in Surah Rum were fulfilled simultaneously within the stipulated period of ten years.

The Byzantine forces continued to press the Persians hard and in the decisive battle at Nineveh (627 C.E.) they dealt a severe blow. They captured the royal residence of Dastagerd, and then pressing forward reached right opposite to Ctesiphon, capital of Persia in those days. In 628 C.E. in an internal revolt, Khusrau Parvez was imprisoned and 18 of his sons were executed in front of him and a few days later he himself died in the prison. This was the year when the peace treaty of Hudaibiya was concluded, which the Qur’an has termed as “the supreme victory,” and in this very year Khusrau’s son, Qubad II, gave up all the occupied Roman territories and made peace with Byzantium.

After this no one could have any doubt about the truth of the prophecy of the Qur’an, with the result that most of the Arab polytheists accepted Islam. The heirs of Ubayy bin Khalaf lost their bet and had to give a hundred camels to Abu Bakr Siddiq. He took them before the Prophet, who ordered that they be given away in charity, because the bet had been made at a time when gambling had not yet been forbidden by the Shariah; now it was forbidden. Therefore, the bet was allowed to be accepted from the belligerent disbelievers, but instruction given that it should be given away in charity and should not be brought in personal use.

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…

11. Tafsir Zone


12. External Links

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