Overview - Surah 37: as-Saffat (Those Lined Up)

Surah Introduction

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The Surah speaks about the oneness of Allah in very strong terms.  It talks about the teachings of various prophets of Allah. All of them preached the same message. It gives warnings to the non-believers that their plots against the message of Islam will not work. The truth will prevail.


  1. The Lord of the heaven and earth is one God. The mockers at the Prophet of God will one day see the truth. The Day of Judgment will dawn suddenly.
  2. The guilty shall be punished and virtuous will be rewarded.
  3. Allah delivered Prophet Noah from his enemies. Prophet Ibrahim's encounter with idolatry. The test of Prophet Ibrahim. His willingness to sacrifice his son.
  4. How Allah delivered Prophets Moses, Aaron, Elias and Lot and punished their enemies.
  5. How Prophet Yunus was delivered from the belly of the whale. Angels are not Allah's daughters; they are Allah's servants. Allah's messengers will succeed.

Surah as-Saffat takes its name from the first Ayat, وَالصَّافَّاتِ صَفًّا "By those lined up in rows." (37:1)

There are 182 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat182
Total Words *860
Root Words *250
Unique Root Words *11
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 56th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 9th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
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*
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, Lut, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Musa, Harun, Ilias, Yunus
Surah Index
Aaron, Abraham, Adversity (patience during) , Angels, Astronomy (stars) , Astronomy (stars) (neighbourhood of Earth populated by), Astronomy (sunrise) , Baal, Communications (overhearing the Host on high) , Elijah, Future (learning of it through divination forbidden) , Hell, Humankind (creation of) (with water), Iblis, Isaac, Ishmael, Jinn, Jonah, Judgement, Judgement (Day) , Lot, Moses, Noah, Poets, Resurrection, Ships, Tree (of hell)

Central Theme

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Theme 1: The honour of the Friends of Allah and the humiliation of the enemies of Allah.

The disbelievers of Makkah are warned of their mockery and derision to God’s message of Monotheism (Tawhid) and the Hereafter, and their refusal to acknowledge the Prophet. In the end they have been plainly warned that the Prophet, whom they are mocking and ridiculing, will overwhelm them in spite of their power and wealth and they will find the army of God encamping in the very courtyards of their houses (v. 171-179).

This notice was given at a time when there appeared to be no chance of success for the Prophets mission. The Muslims (who have been called God’s army in these verses) were under severe persecution. Three quarters of their population had already emigrated and hardly 40 to 50 of the Companions were left with the Prophet in Makkah, helplessly experiencing excessive persecution. Under such circumstances, no one would think that the Prophet and this mere handful of ill equipped companions would ultimately attain dominance. Rather, people thought that the new movement would be buried in the ravines of Makkah. Despite this, within hardly 15 to 16 years, the conquest of Makkah occurred, the precise thing which the disbelievers had been forewarned about.

Along with administering warnings, this Surah covers the themes of inducement and instruction in a balanced way. Brief but impressive arguments have been given about the validity of the doctrines of Monotheism and the Hereafter. Criticism has been made of the creed of the polytheist, showing the absurdity of their beliefs and the evil consequences of their deviations, contrasting this with the splendid results of faith and righteous acts.

The most instructive of the historical narratives presented in this Surah is from the important life of the Prophet Abraham, and the event where he was ready to sacrifice his only son after receiving inspiration from God. This was a lesson not only for the disbelieving Quraysh who were proud of their blood relationship to him but also for the Muslims. By narrating this event, they were shown the real spirit of Islam and how a true believer should be ready to sacrifice his all for the pleasure of God.

In these verses they were given glad tidings and told not be disheartened by their difficulties, for they would eventually attain power against the people of falsehood, who were dominant at the time. A few years later, the turn of events confirmed that this was not an empty promise but an inevitable reality, which had been foretold to strengthen their hearts.

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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  • Arranged in rows - وَالصَّافَّاتِ صَفًّا "By those lined up in rows" (37:1)
    وَإِنَّا لَنَحْنُ الصَّافُّونَ "And indeed, we are those who line up." (37:165)

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Those chosen by Allah. In Surah as-Saffat, Allah repeats  إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ  "except the chosen servants of Allah." (37:40) (37:74) (37:128) (37:160) (37:169). In Surah Sad, Allah mentions a quality He gives to His chosen ones - remembrance of the Afterlife - إِنَّا أَخْلَصْنَاهُم بِخَالِصَةٍ ذِكْرَى الدَّارِ "Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality: remembrance of the home [of the Hereafter]." (38:46)
  • The connection between the beginning of Surat Sad and the end of As-Saffat is clear. The ending of Surat As-Saffat contains a warning to the disbelievers of defeat in the world and punishmnet in the hereafter: "Then for Our punishment are they impatient?" (37:176) "But when it descends in their territory, then evil is the warning of those who were warned" (37:177) "And leave them for a time" (37:178) "And see for they are going to see." (37:179). In the beginning of Surat Sad, Allah relates the punishment of the previous nations that denied the message. Their regret was of no avail to them when they regretted: "How many a generation have We destroyed before them, and they [then] called out; but it was not a time for escape." (38:3).

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 word سَلَامٌ 'Salam' has been repeatedley used in the Surah - upon Nuh (37:79) Ibrahim (37:109) Musa and Haroon (37:120) Ilyas (37:30) - Messengers (37:181)
  • Following phrases have been repeated:
    إِنَّا كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ "Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good." (37:131) (37:80) (37:110) (37:121)
    إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ "Indeed, he was of Our believing servants." (37:132) (37:81) (37:111) (37:122)
     إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّـهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ "But not the chosen servants of Allah." (37:40) (37:74) (37:128) (37:160) (37:169)
  • (37:102) is the longest Ayat of this Surah with

     فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَىٰ فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَىٰ ۚ قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ "And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast." (37:102)
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

11 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 24 1722
أ ل ه 20 2851
ك و ن 20 1390
ر ب ب 14 980
ع ب د 14 275
إِلَّا 12 663
إِلَىٰ 10 742
ب ي ن 8 523
س ل م 8 140
ر س ل 8 513

Period of Revelation

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The subject matter shows that this Surah was probably sent down in the middle or last stage of the middle Makkan period. The style highlights the raging antagonism and the difficult and discouraging circumstances faced by the Prophet and his companions.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • The terms Mukhliseen [purely sincere], Muhsineen [strivers of excellence] and Mu'mineen [Believers] are repeated:
    Mukhliseen [purely sincere] - (37:40), (37:74), (37:128), (37:160) and (37:169)
    Muhsineen [strivers of excellence] - (37:80), (37:105), (37:110), (37:110), (37:121) and (37:131)
    Mu'mineen [Believers] - (37:81), (37:111), (37:122) and (37:132)  
  • Allah Himself testifies that your God is one and the shaitans do not have any access to the exalted assembly of angels.
  • Life in the hereafter and the Day of Judgement are real.
  • Scenes from the Day of Judgement:
  • Dialogue between the followers and the leaders who mislead them.
  • A view from the scenes of Paradise.
  • An sample of conversation between the residents of Paradise.
  • A view from the scenes of Hell.
  • Prayer of the Prophet Nuh and Allah's response.
  • The Story of the Prophet Ibrahim:
  • He questioned his people for worshipping idols.
  • His people threw him in the furnace, but Allah saved him.
  • He prayed for a son and Allah granted him a son.
  • Allah tested by asking him to offer the sacrifice of his only son and he passed the test.
  • Risalat (Prophethood) of Musa, Haroon, Ilyas and Lut, peace be upon them all.
  • Story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah).
  • Allah has promised to help His Rasools and His devotees.
  • The dream of a Prophet is revelation, albeit a command or news (37:102)
  • The story of Ibrahim and the dream of him sacrificing his son is an demonstration that the Prophet's are tested the most.
  • Ibrahim was tested to see who does he love more; the love for his son or his of Allah.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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