Overview - Surah 43: az-Zukhruf (Ornaments)

Surah Introduction

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The Surah tells us that the revelation is a mercy from Allah. Allah chooses whosoever He wills to give His revelation.  The worldly goods and riches do not necessarily mean that a person is best in the sight of Allah.  The real value comes from following the truth and righteousness.


  1. This revelation is given to people in Arabic so that they may understand. The revelation is a mercy from Allah.
  2. Shirk and blind following of ancestors are major problems of non-believers.
  3. Allah chooses the Prophets and Messengers according to His wisdom. The worldly riches do not mean much in the sight of Allah.
  4. Those who forget Allah come under the influence of the Satan.
  5. Pharaoh's response to Prophet Moses. Allah's punishment came against Pharaoh and his people.
  6. Jesus' Message was also changed by some of his people.
  7. The Believers will succeed in the Hereafter.

The Surah takes its name from the Ayat, وَزُخْرُفًا ۚ وَإِن كُلُّ ذَٰلِكَ لَمَّا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ۚ وَالْآخِرَةُ عِندَ رَبِّكَ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ "And gold ornament. But all that is not but the enjoyment of worldly life. And the Hereafter with your Lord is for the righteous." (43:35)

The following Surahs all have the letters, Ha-Meem as their opening Ayaat and interestingly what is common to all of them is their mentioning of the Prophet Musa. These Surahs are;

Surah 40: al-Ghafir
Surah 41: Fussilat
Surah 42: Shurah
Surah 43: Zukhruf
Surah 44: Dukhan
Surah 45: Jathiyah
Surah 46: al-Ahqaaf

There are 89 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat89
Total Words *830
Root Words *235
Unique Root Words *1
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 63rd (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
Ibrahim, Musa, Isa
Surah Index
Abraham, God (beyond definition) , God (false daughters of) , God (has no son) , Angels, Angels (false claim that they are female) , Beasts, Children (of Israel) , Earth, Gold, Golden armlets, Hell, Iblis, Jesus (divergent views about) , Jesus (is the means to know Judgement Day (alternate translation)) , Judgement (Day) , Marriage (recline with spouses in Paradise) , Mary, Moses, Pharaoh, Pharaoh (punishment of) , Qur’an, Qur’an (revealed in Arabic) , Record of personal deeds, Religion, Religion (falsely guided by ancestral concept of) , Religious (sects) , Resurrection (of humans) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Ships, Silver, Weather (rain)

Central Theme

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Theme 1: Dangers from the trials of this world its beautification.

Theme 2: In this Surah a forceful and severe criticism has been made of the Quraysh and the common Arabs creeds and superstitions of ignorance in which they persisted, and their stubbornness has been exposed in a firm and effective way, so that every member of the society, who was reasonable in some degree, should be made to consider the evils in which the community was involved and its tyrannical treatment of the person who was trying to redeem it.

The discourse starts in a way as if to say: “You, by means of your mischief’s, want that the revelation of this Book should be stopped, but God has never withheld the appointment of His Prophets and the revelation of His Books because of the mischief of the people, but has destroyed the wicked people, who obstructed the way of His guidance. The same He will do again.” A little further in v. 41-43 and 79-80 the same thing has been reiterated. Though the people who were plotting against his life are meant, the Prophet has been addressed to the effect: “whether you remain alive or not, We will certainly punish the wicked,” and the people themselves have been plainly warned to the effect: “If you have decided to take an action against Our Prophet, We too will take a decisive action.”

Then, it has been asked, what is the reality of the religion that the people are following so devotedly and what are the arguments on whose strength they are resisting Muhammad.

They themselves admit that the Creator of the earth and heavens and of themselves and their deities is only God. They also know and admit that the blessings they are benefiting from, have been bestowed by God; yet they insist on making others associates of God in His Sovereignty. They regard the servants as the children of God, and that too daughters, whom they regard as disgraceful for themselves.

They believe that the angels are goddesses; they have carved their images as females; they adorn them with female dresses and ornaments, and call them daughters of God: they worship them and invoke them for the fulfilment of their needs. How did they know that the angels were female?

When they are rebuked for these superstitions, they present the pretence of destiny and say: “Had God disapproved of these our practices, we could not have worshipped these images, whereas the means of finding out whether God had approved of something or not, are His Books and not those things which are happening in the world according to His Will. For under His Will not only idol worship but crimes like theft and adultery, robbery, murder, etc. also are being committed. Can this argument be used to justify as right and proper this commission of every crime and evil in the world?

When it is asked: Have you any other authority, apart from this wrong argument, for this polytheism of yours? They reply, “The same has been the practice since the time of our forefathers.” In other words, this in their opinion is a strong enough argument for a creed’s being right and true, whereas the Prophet Abrahim, descent from whom is the only basis of their pride and distinction, had rejected the religion of his elders and left his home, and he had discarded every such blind imitation of his forefathers, which did not have the support of any rational argument. Then, if these people had to follow their elders only, for this also they selected their most ignorant elders and abandoned their most illustrious elders like the Prophets Abraham and Ishmael.

When they are asked: “Has ever a Prophet or a Book sent down by God also given this teaching that others beside God too are worthy of worship? They present this practice of the Christians as an argument that they took Jesus son of Mary as son of God and worshipped him; whereas the question was not whether the community of a Prophet had committed polytheism (shirk) or not, but whether a Prophet had himself taught polytheism. Jesus son of Mary had never said that he was son of God and that the people should worship him. His own was the same teaching which every other Prophet had given: “My Lord as well as your Lord is God: so worship Him alone.”

They were disinclined to believe in the Prophethood of the Prophet because he was neither a rich man nor a person of high worldly position and rank. They said “Had God willed to appoint a prophet among us, He would have appointed one of the great men of our two cities (Makkah and Ta’if). On that very basis, Pharaoh also had looked down upon the Prophet Moses and said: “If God, the King of the heavens, had to send a messenger to me, the king of the earth, He would have sent him with bracelets of gold and a company of angels in attendance. Wherefrom has this beggar appeared? I am superior to him, for the kingdom of Egypt belongs to me, and the canals of the River Nile are flowing under my control. What is the status of this man as against me? He has neither wealth nor authority.”

Thus, after criticizing each practice of ignorance of the disbelievers and rejecting it with rational arguments, it has been pointed out: “Neither has God any offspring, nor are there separate gods of the earth and heavens, nor is there any intercessor who may be able to protect from His punishment those who adopt deviation knowingly. God is far above this that He should have children. He alone is the God of the whole Universe: all others are His servants and not associates in His attributes and powers, and only such men can intercede with Him, who are themselves followers of the Truth and they also can intercede only for those who may have adopted obedience of the Truth in the world.”

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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  • The polytheists admit the Creator of everything is only God alone.

    وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ خَلَقَهُنَّ الْعَزِيزُ الْعَلِيمُ "And if you should ask them, "Who has created the heavens and the earth?" they would surely say, "They were created by the Exalted in Might, the Knowing." (43:9)
    وَلَئِن سَأَلْتَهُم مَّنْ خَلَقَهُمْ لَيَقُولُنَّ اللَّـهُ ۖ فَأَنَّىٰ يُؤْفَكُونَ "And if you asked them who created them, they would surely say, "Allah." So how are they deluded?" (43:87)

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • The Surah before, this Surah and the Surah after all begin the حم [the disjointed letters, Ha Mim] as their first Ayat. 
  • The previous Surah ends with Ayat discussing the nature of Revelation (42:51). This Surah begins with Ayat about the nature of Revelation also (43:4).

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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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) = 1*

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

1 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 21 1722
ٱلَّذِى 17 1464
ب ي ن 14 523
ق و م 13 660
ر ب ب 13 980
ج ع ل 12 346
ك و ن 11 1390
إِلَّا 10 663
ر س ل 9 513
ع ب د 9 275

Period of Revelation

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Its period of revelation also could not be determined from any authentic tradition, but the internal evidence of the subject matter shows that this Surah too was sent down in the same period in which Surah 43: az-Zukhruf (Ornaments) and a few other earlier Surahs had been revealed. However, this Surah was sent down somewhat later. Its historical background is this: When the disbelievers of Makkah became more and more antagonistic in their attitude and conduct, the Prophet prayed: O God, help me with a famine like the famine of Joseph. He thought that when the people would be afflicted with a calamity, they would remember God, their hearts would soften and they would accept the admonition. God granted his prayer, and the whole land was overtaken by such a terrible famine that the people were sorely distressed. At last, some of the Quraysh chiefs among whom Abdullah bin Masud has particularly mentioned the name of Abu Sufyan came to the Prophet and requested him to pray to God to deliver his people from the calamity. On this occasion God sent down this Surah.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Al-Qur'an is a transcript from the Mother-Book which is in Allah's keeping.
  • Supplication before riding a conveyance.
  • Creed of the mushrikin that angels are female divinities is false.
  • An example of the Prophet Ibrahim who recognized the Oneness of Allah and rejected the shirk using merely his common sense and observing His signs from nature.
  • If it were not that all mankind will become one race of unbelievers, Allah would have given the unbelievers houses which were made with sterling silver.
  • He who turns away from the remembrance of Allah, Allah appoints a Shaitan to be his intimate friend.
  • Hold fast to The Qur'an if you want to be rightly guided.
  • The Prophet Isa (Jesus) was no more than a mortal whom Allah favored and made an example for the children of Israel.
  • O Prophet tell the Christians: "If Allah had a son, I would have been the first one to worship him."

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Miscellaneous Issues

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