Overview - Surah 38: Sad (Sad)

Surah Introduction

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The Surah talks about the basic message of all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.  They came to preach Tawhid. The Prophet suffered and went through a lot of hardship in presenting Allah's message.  Their enemies attacked them and persecuted them, but then finally it was the truth that prevailed and falsehood was defeated.  Power and riches all come from Allah.  Some people become arrogant when they have power.  But Allah gave the examples of David and Solomon who were great prophets as well as powerful kings. They obey Allah. Their riches did not corrupt them.


  1. Warnings to the disbelievers. The arguments of the disbelievers against the Qur'an and the Prophet. The defeat of the disbelievers.
  2. Remember Allah's servant Prophet David. Allah's blessings upon him.  He was tested and he turned to Allah.
  3. Allah's blessings upon Prophet Solomon. He was also tested, but he repented and was forgiven by Allah.
  4. Allah tested Prophet Job and he was rewarded for his patience.  Remember Allah's servants: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Elisha and Zulkifl. The warnings for the wicked.
  5. There is only one God. The great message. Allah created Adam, but Iblis became his enemy. He vowed to mislead human beings. Allah's curse came upon him and upon those who follow him.

The Surah takes its name from the letter 'Sad' which is in the first Ayat, ص ۚ وَالْقُرْآنِ ذِي الذِّكْرِ "Sad. By the Qur'an containing reminder..." (38:1).

There are 88 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat88
Total Words *733
Root Words *247
Unique Root Words *7
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 38th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 10th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey, 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*
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, Ismail, Ishaq, Ayyub, Dhulkifl, Dawud, Sulayman, Alyasa
Surah Index
‘Aad, Abraham, Adversity (patience during) , Angels, Birds, Builders, David, Disbelievers, Divers, Elisha, Hell, Hell (burning despair and ice cold darkness in) , Humankind (creation of) (from clay), Iblis, Isaac, Ishmael, Job, Judgement (Day) , Lot, Mountains, Noah, Pharaoh, Prayer (of Solomon) , Prayer (times of day of) , Qur’an, Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Solomon, Thamud, Weather (wind)

Central Theme

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The Surah begins with a review of the aforesaid meeting. Making the dialogue between the Prophet and the disbelievers the basis, God says that the actual reason with those people for their denial is not any defect in the message of Islam but their own arrogance, jealousy and insistence on following the blind. They are not prepared to believe in a man from their own clan as a Prophet of God and follow him. They want to persist in the ideas of ignorance which they have found their ancestors following. And when a person exposes this ignorance and presents the truth before them, they are alarmed and regard it as an oddity, rather as a novel and impossible thing. For them the concept of Monotheism (Tawhid) and the Hereafter is not only an unacceptable creed but also a concept which only deserves to be ridiculed and mocked.

Then, God, both in the initial part of the Surah and in its last sentences, has precisely warned the disbelievers, as if to say, “The man whom you are ridiculing today and whose guidance you reject will soon overpower you, and the time is not far when in this very city of Makkah, where you are persecuting him, he will overwhelm you completely.” Then describing nine of the Prophets, one after the other, with greater details of the story of the Prophets David and Solomon; God has emphasized the point that His Law of Justice is impartial and objective, that only the right attitude of man is acceptable to Him, that He calls to account and punishes every wrongdoer, whoever he be, and that He likes only those people who do not persist in wrongdoing but repent as soon as they are warned of it, and pass their life in the world keeping in mind their accountability in the Hereafter.

After this, the final end that the obedient servants and the disobedient people will meet in the Hereafter, has been depicted, and two things have been especially impressed on the disbelievers:

1.         That the leaders and guides whom the ignorant people are following blindly in the world, on the way of deviation, will have reached Hell even before their followers in the Hereafter, and the two groups will be cursing each other there;

2.         That the disbelievers will be amazed to see that there is no trace whatever in Hell of the believers whom they used to regard as contemptible in the world and will themselves be involved in its torment.

In conclusion, mention has been made of the story of Adam and Satan (Iblis), which is meant to tell the disbelieving Quraysh that the same arrogance and vanity which was preventing them from bowing before Muhammad had prevented Satan also from bowing before Adam. Satan felt jealous of the high rank God had given to Adam and became accursed when he disobeyed His Command. Likewise, “You, O people of Quraysh, are feeling jealous of the high rank God has bestowed on Muhammad and are not prepared to obey him whom God has appointed His messenger. Therefore, you will be doomed ultimately to the same fate as will be met by Satan.”

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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  • In the beginning there is an Ayat of prostration (38:24) and the end of the Surah, Iblees's refusal to prostrate (38:73 onwards) is mentioned in the story of the creation of Adam. 
  • Reminder - There is mention of the Qur'an being a reminder in the beginning and the end of the Surah.
  • ص ۚ وَالْقُرْآنِ ذِي الذِّكْرِ "Sad. By the Qur'an containing reminder..." (38:1)
  • إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌ لِّلْعَالَمِينَ "It is but a reminder to the worlds." (28:87) 

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • 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).
  • In the end of Surat Sad, Allah says: "It is but a reminder to the worlds." (37:87). In the beginning of Surat Az-Zumar He says: "The revelation of the Qur'an is from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (39:1). It is as if it is being said: 'this reminder is a revelation', such is the connection that if the 'Basmallah' in Surat Az-Zumar was removed, the ending of Sad with seemlessly connect to the beginning of Az-Zumar. (Ref: Asraar Tarteeb al Qur'aan, Al Suyuti 16/1).

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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  • This Surah has the highest mention of the name of Prophet Dawud [David] - It is mentioned 5 times. 
  • The repentant nature of three prophets are mentioned إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ:
  •  اصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاذْكُرْ عَبْدَنَا دَاوُودَ ذَا الْأَيْدِ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ "Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant, David, the possessor of strength; indeed, he was one who repeatedly turned back [to Allah]." (38:17)
  • وَوَهَبْنَا لِدَاوُودَ سُلَيْمَانَ ۚ نِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ "And to David We gave Solomon. An excellent servant, indeed he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah]." (38:30)
  • وَخُذْ بِيَدِكَ ضِغْثًا فَاضْرِب بِّهِ وَلَا تَحْنَثْ ۗ إِنَّا وَجَدْنَاهُ صَابِرًا ۚ نِّعْمَ الْعَبْدُ ۖ إِنَّهُ أَوَّابٌ "[We said], "And take in your hand a bunch [of grass] and strike with it and do not break your oath." Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant. Indeed, he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah]." (38:44)

Important key and unique words of the Surah

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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) = 7*

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

7 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 23 1722
ذ ك ر 13 292
ر ب ب 10 980
إِلَّا 9 663
أ و ب 8 17
أ ل ه 7 2851
ب ي ن 7 523
إِلَىٰ 7 742
ٱلَّذِى 6 1464
خ ل ق 6 261

Period of Revelation

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Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Al-Qur'an is full of admonition. The disbelievers are in sheer arrogance for calling the Prophet a liar.
  • Story of the Prophet Dawood:
  • The mountains and birds used to sing the rhymes of Allah with him.
  • The litigants who came to him for a decision.
  • The fact that Allah has not created the heavens and earth in vain.
  • Story of the Prophet Sulaiman:
  • His inspection of steeds which were to be used in Jihad.
  • His prayer to grant him a kingdom similar of which may not be granted to any one.
  • Story of Ayub, his sickness, patience and relief.
  • The mission of the Prophet:
  • Warn the people
  • Declare that there is no divinity except Allah.
  • Story of Adam and disobedience of Iblees (Shaitan).

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Miscellaneous Issues

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External Links

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