Overview - Surah 61: as-Saff (The Ranks )

Surah Introduction

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The Surah exhorts Muslims to be in a united front and not be hypocritical in their actions.  The Surah speaks about Prophet Moses and his difficulties with his own people.  He told them to follow Allah’s rules and they did not listen to him.  Then Allah sent Jesus among them and he also reminded them about Allah and gave them the good news of the coming of Prophet Muhammad. But they continue in their stubborn denial. The Surah ends with the good news that the true religion will prevail in the end and Allah will give it victory.


  1. Struggle for the Truth. The light of Islam will shine more.
  2. The way of success for the believers is to struggle for the truth.

The Surah takes it name from the fourth Ayat, إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنْيَانٌ مَّرْصُوصٌ "Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly." [61:4].

There are 14 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat14
Total Words *221
Root Words *86
Unique Root Words *1
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 109th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 17th year of Prophethood (4th Year Hijri)
Events during/before this Surah*
, Battle of Uhud, Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr, Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah, , 2nd Pledge of Aqabah, 1st Pledge of Aqabah, 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*
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
Musa, Isa, Muhammad
Surah Index
Ahmad, God (hard strivers rewarded better) , Children (of Israel) , Disciples (of Jesus), Hypocrites, Jesus, Jesus (disciples) , Jihad, Jihad (striving hard in God’s cause) , Mary, Moses, Prophet (people who are false prophets are wicked) , Sin, Torah

Central Theme

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It’s theme is to exhort the Muslims to adopt sincerity in Faith and to struggle with their lives in the cause of God. It is addressed to the Muslims with weak faith as well as those who had entered Islam with a false profession of the Faith and also those who were sincere in their profession. Some verses are addressed to the first two groups, some only to the hypocrites, and some only to the sincere Muslims.

At the outset the believers have been warned to the effect; “God indeed hates those people who say one thing and do another, and He indeed loves those who fight in the cause of the Truth, standing like a solid structure, against the enemies of God.”

In v. 5-7 the people of the Prophet’s community have been warned that their attitude towards their Messenger and their Religion should not be like the attitude that the Israelites had adopted towards the Prophets Moses and Jesus. In spite of acknowledging the Prophet Moses as a Messenger of God they continued to malign him as long as he lived, and in spite of witnessing clear signs from the Prophet Jesus they denied him without any hesitation. Consequently, the Israelites became perverse, incapable of benefiting from divine guidance. This is certainly not an enviable state which another nation should imitate.

Then, in v. 8-9 a proclamation has been made with the challenge: “The Jews and the Christians, and the hypocrites, who are conspiring with them, may try however hard they may to extinguish this Light of God, it will shine forth and spread in the world in all its fullness, and the Religion brought by the true Messenger of God shall prevail over every other religion however hateful it may be to the pagans and polytheists.”

In v. 10-13, the believers have been told that the way to success both here and in the Hereafter is only one: that they should believe in God and His Messenger sincerely and should exert their utmost in God’s Way with their selves and their wealth. As a reward for this they will earn immunity from God’s punishment, forgiveness of their sins and the eternal Paradise in the Hereafter, and will be blessed with God’s good pleasure, assistance and victory in the world.

In conclusion, the believers have been exhorted to the effect that just as the disciples of the Prophet Jesus had helped him in the cause of God, so should they also become “helpers of God,” so that they too are blessed with the same kind of good pleasure and approval of God as had been the believers before them against the disbelievers.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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The Surah revolves around ways of victory for the Religion. This cannot happen except if the Believers are in one Saff [row] stood shoulder to shoulder. An individual brick no matter how strong cannot fulfill its role for a wall or a structure. It is only when strong bricks unite that a wall or structure becomes solid and impenetrable.

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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  • Both Surah al-Mumtahinah [60] and Surah as-Saff [61] begin with Ayat related to Jihad.
  • Both the first Ayat of Surah as-Saff [61] and Surah al-Jumuah [62] end with names of Allah, al-Azeez al-Hakeem.
  • Both Surah as-Saff [61] and al-Jumu'ah [62] mention the Jews.
  • Surah Saff [61:6] mentions the prophecy of the Prophet Muhammd to be sent after Jesus and Surah al-Jumuah [62:2] mentions the sending of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • There is a connection between the beginning of Surah as-Saff [61], al-Jum'uah [62] and al-Munafiqun [63]. In Surah as-Saff, Allah speaks of those who say that which they do not do. In the following Surah, this concept is mentioned again in the example of Jewish scholars who are like donkeys contradicting and not benefiting from the knowledge they are carrying. Then this is again followed by the next Surah, which begins with the statements of the Hypocrites who are saying they testify to the truth, whereas in reality they are liars. All three being examples of contradictions between word and deed.

The Virtues of the Surah

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  • عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سَلاَمٍ، قَالَ قَعَدْنَا نَفَرٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَتَذَاكَرْنَا فَقُلْنَا لَوْ نَعْلَمُ أَىَّ الأَعْمَالِ أَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ لَعَمِلْنَاهُ فَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى ‏:‏ ‏(‏ سبَّحَ لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ * يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لاَ تَفْعَلُونَ ‏)‏ قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ سَلاَمٍ فَقَرَأَهَا عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم

    ِAbdullah bin Salam said, “A group of us Companions of the Messenger of Allah sat talking, and we said: ‘If we knew which deed was most beloved to Alllah then we would do it.’ So Allah, Most High, revealed: Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies Allah. And He is Almighty, the All-Wise. O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do?.[Ayat no.4 has the mention of those whom Allah loves] ” Abdullah bin Salam said: “So the Messenger of Allah recited it to us.” Tirmidhee no. 3309​

Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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This is the only Surah of the Qur'an that mentions "Ahmad" as the name of the Prophet Muhammad as prophecised by Jesus,

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّـهِ إِلَيْكُم مُّصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِن بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَـٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُّبِينٌ "And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, "O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad." But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, "This is obvious magic." (61:6)

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

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
أ ل ه 17 2851
أ م ن 7 879
ق و ل 7 1722
ٱلَّذِى 6 1464
ر س ل 6 513
ب ن ي 5 184
ق و م 4 660
إِلَىٰ 4 742
ن ص ر 4 158
ه د ي 3 316

Period of Revelation

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Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Believers are commanded not to say something that they won't do (61:2) (61:3)
  • The Prophet Isa (Jesus) gave good news of a Rasool coming after him whose name would be Ahmed (Muhammad-pbuh). (61:5)
  • A bargain to save oneself from the hellfire is to believe in Allah, His Rasool and strive your utmost (Jihad) in the cause of Allah with one's wealth and person.
  • Believers are commanded to be the helpers of Allah like the disciples of Isa (Jesus (pbuh).

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Miscellaneous Issues

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