Overview - Surah 26: ash-Shu`ara' (The Poets )

Surah Introduction

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The non-believers were asking for signs to prove that the Qur'an was the word of Allah.  Allah mentioned many signs both in nature and in history.  Stories of many prophets are also mentioned to indicate that all prophets presented basically the same message.


  1. Allah has power to bring down the mightiest sign, but here is a test for people.  This wonderful creation is a sign itself for those who want to learn.
  2. Signs were shown to Pharaoh.
  3. Pharaoh's magicians and Prophet Moses.
  4. The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.  The sea splitting and giving the way.
  5. Prophet Ibrahim's struggle against idolatry.
  6. Prophet Noah and his people.
  7. The 'Ad and the Prophet Hud – peace be upon him.
  8. The Thamud and the Prophet Saleh – peace be upon him.
  9. Prophet Lot – peace be upon him - and his people.
  10. Prophet Shu'aib – peace be upon him - and his people.
  11. The Qur'an is the message from the Lord of the worlds. It is neither from devils nor do they have any clue of this message. It is not poetry of the poets.  It is a serious message with eternal consequences.

The Surah is named 'The Poets' and is mentioned in the Ayat, وَالشُّعَرَاءُ يَتَّبِعُهُمُ الْغَاوُونَ "And the poets - [only] the deviators follow them;" (26:224).

This is the longest Makki Surah of the Qur'an having 227 Ayat.


Total Ayat227
Total Words *1318
Root Words *276
Unique Root Words *6
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 47th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 6th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
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*
Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3,Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey,1st Pledge of Aqabah,2nd Pledge of Aqabah,,Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah,Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr,Battle of Uhud,,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
Nuh, Hud, Salih, Lut, Ibrahim, Shuaib, Musa, Harun
Surah Index
‘Aad, Aaron, Abraham, God (wills no wrong to His creation) , Children, Children (of Israel) , Commandments (general religious) , Earth, Gabriel, Hell, Homosexuality, Hud, Iblis, Judgement (Day) , Lot, Madyan, Moses, Moses (duel by sorcery with Pharaoh’s magicians) , Moses (parting of the Red Sea) , Noah, Pharaoh, Pharaoh (punishment of) , Poets, Prayer (of Abraham) , Prayer (of Noah) , Prayer (prostration) , Qur’an (revealed in Arabic) , Red Sea (parting of) , Resurrection (Day) , Revelation, Salih, Sea, Shu’ayb, Thamud, Thamud (rock dwellings) , Thamud (she camel) , Thamud (she camel) (killing of), Thamud (she camel) (punishment for)

Central Theme

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The background of the Surah is that the disbelievers of Makkah were persistently refusing on one pretext or the other to accept the message of Islam given by the Prophet. Sometimes they would say that he did not show them any sign to convince them of his Prophethood; sometimes they would brand him as a poet or a sorcerer and mock his message; and sometimes they would ridicule his mission saying that his followers were either a few foolish youth or the poor people and slaves. They argued that if his mission had some real value for people, the nobles and the elders would have accepted it first. Meanwhile, the Prophet was wearied by his efforts to rationally show them the errors of their creed and prove the truth of the doctrine of Monotheism (Tawhid) and the Hereafter. In contrast, the disbelievers were never tired of adopting various acts of stubbornness. This state of affairs was causing great anguish and grief to the Prophet.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Struggle of Musa and Pharaoh mentioned in this Surah and following two Surahs - an-Naml and al-Qasas.

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • The phrase أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ - ""Will you not fear?" -has been repeated a number of times. It was mentioned by Prophet Nuh (26:106), Hud (26:124), Saleh (26:142), Lut (26:161), Shuayb (26:177), Musa (26:11)  
  • The following Ayaat have been repeated 5 times in this Surah. (Ayat 106-109, 124-127, 142-145, 161-164, 177-180) [confirmation needed]
    إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ  فَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُونِ  وَمَا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مِنْ أَجْرٍ ۖ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ""Indeed, I am to you a trustworthy messenger.So fear Allah and obey me.And I do not ask you for it any payment. My payment is only from the Lord of the worlds." 
  • Rejection of the different nations -
    كَذَّبَتْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ الْمُرْسَلِينَ "The people of Noah denied the messengers" (26:105)
    كَذَّبَتْ عَادٌ الْمُرْسَلِينَ "'Aad denied the messengers." (26:123)
    كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُودُ الْمُرْسَلِينَ " Thamud denied the messengers." (26:141)
    كَذَّبَتْ قَوْمُ لُوطٍ الْمُرْسَلِينَ "The people of Lot denied the messengers." (26:160)
    كَذَّبَ أَصْحَابُ الْأَيْكَةِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ "The companions of the thicket denied the messengers." (26:176)
  • The word 'Lisan' - meaning tongue has been mentioned 3 times in this Surah:
    وَيَضِيقُ صَدْرِي وَلَا يَنطَلِقُ لِسَانِي فَأَرْسِلْ إِلَىٰ هَارُونَ "And that my breast will tighten and my tongue will not be fluent, so send for Aaron." (26:13)
     وَاجْعَل لِّي لِسَانَ صِدْقٍ فِي الْآخِرِينَ "And grant me an honourable mention in later generations; " (26:84)
    بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِيٍّ مُّبِينٍ  "In a clear Arabic language." (26:195)
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

6 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah *

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
in Qur'an
ق و ل 52 1722
ك و ن 38 1390
ر ب ب 36 980
أ م ن 27 879
ع ل م 25 854
إِلَّا 17 663
و ق ي 17 258
ر س ل 17 513
أ ل ه 15 2851
أ ي ي 14 382

Period of Revelation

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The subject matter and the style show that this Surah was revealed during the middle Makkan period. According to Ibn Abbas (a great companion of the Prophet), Surah 20: Ta Ha was revealed, followed by Surah 56: al-Waqi’ah (The Occurrence) and then Surah 26: ash-Shu’ara’ (The Poets).

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Allah's address to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that he should not fret himself to death with grief for the people's disbelief.
  • Story of Musa, Fir'on, and deliverance of the children of Israel.
  • Story of Ibrahim and his arguments against idol worshipping.
  • The fact that the mushrikin and their gods will both be toppled into hell.
  • Stories of Prophets Nuh, Hud, Saleh, Lut, Shu'aib (pbut) and their people.
  • The fact that the Qur'an is revealed in the Arabic language and is not brought by shaitans; as it is neither in their interest nor in their power to do so.
  • The fact that shaitans descend on those slandering sinners who listen to hearsay and are liars.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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