Surah al-An`am (The Cattle) 6 : 20

ٱلَّذِينَ ءَاتَيْنَٰهُمُ ٱلْكِتَٰبَ يَعْرِفُونَهُۥ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَآءَهُمُ ۘ ٱلَّذِينَ خَسِرُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَهُمْ فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
Those to whom We have given the Book recognize it as they recognize their [own] sons. Those who will lose themselves [in the Hereafter] do not believe.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

The Qur’ān mentions on several occasions that the people who received earlier revelations, i.e. the Jews and the Christians, recognize the Qur’ān and the truthfulness of the Prophet Muĥammad’s message as well as the fact that the Qur’ān was revealed to him by God. At times, the people of these earlier revelations are confronted by this fact because of their hostile attitude towards the Prophet and Islam. At other times, the Arab idolaters are told this so that they realize that the people of earlier revelations, are fully aware of the nature of revelation, recognize the Qur’ān and that the Prophet Muĥammad (peace be upon him) tells only the truth when he states that God revealed it to him in the same way as He bestowed messages from on high to earlier prophets.
 
Since this verse was most probably revealed in Makkah, its reference to the people of earlier revelations suggests that it was addressed to the idolaters, emphasizing that the people of earlier revelations recognize the Qur’ān as they recognize their own sons. It is true that the majority of them do not believe in it but this is only because they have squandered their own souls. In this, they are the same as the pagan Arabs who rejected this faith and, thereby, also squandered their souls. Both the preceding and following verses also speak of the idolaters, a fact which lends weight to the view that it is a Makkan revelation.
 
Commentators on the Qur’ān generally suggest that this verse means that the people of earlier revelations know that the Qur’ān is truly revealed by God, and that the Prophet was truly a messenger of God to whom the Qur’ān was bestowed from on high. This is undoubtedly part of the meaning of this verse. However, a glance at the history and attitude of the people of earlier revelations towards the Islamic faith indicates another aspect to the meaning of this verse which God wants the Muslim community to fully understand.

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 Abbas, the whole of the Surah was revealed at one sitting at Makkah [during the night]. Asma bint Yazid says, ‘During the revelation of this Surah the Prophet was riding on a she-camel and I was holding her nose-string. The she-camel began to feel the weight so heavily that it seemed as if her bones would break under it.’ We also learn from other narrations that it was revealed during the last year before the migration (Hijrah) and that the Prophet dictated the whole of the Surah the same night that it was revealed. [Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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After determining the period of its revelation it is easier to visualize the background of the Surah. Twelve years had passed since the Prophet had been inviting the people to Islam. The antagonism and persecution by the Quraysh had become most savage and brutal and the majority of the Muslims had to migrate to Abyssinia. Additionally, the two great supporters of the Prophet, Abu Talib and his wife Khadijah were no longer there to help him, so he was deprived of all worldly support. In spite of this he carried on his mission. As a result of this all the good people of Makkah and the surrounding clans gradually began to accept Islam but there the community as a whole was still bent on obstinacy and rejection. Therefore if anyone showed an inclination towards Islam they were subjected to taunts and derision, physical violence and social boycott.

It was in these dark circumstances that a ray of hope gleamed from Yathrib, where Islam began to spread freely by the efforts of some influential people of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj, who had embraced Islam at Makkah. At that time, none but God knew the great hidden potential in this.

To a casual observer it appeared as if Islam was a weak movement, with no material backing, except for some limited support from the Prophet's own family and a few poor followers. Obviously the latter could not give much help because they themselves were being persecuted.

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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