Overview - Surah 23: al-Mu'minun (The Believers )

Naming Convention of the Surah

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Surah al-Mu'minum [The Believers] takes its name after the first Ayat, قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ  "Certainly will the Believers have succeeded." [23:1].

This Surah has 118 Ayat. 


Total Ayat118
Total Words1050
Root Words279
Unique Root Words2
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 74th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 11th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
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*
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, Musa, Harun,
Surah Index
Aaron, Adversity (not burdened beyond capability to withstand) , Adversity (patience during) , Cattle, Chastity, Death, Disbelievers, Earth, Embryology, Hell, Humankind (creation of) (from a drop of sperm), Humankind (creation of) (from clay), Jesus, Judgement (Day) , Mary, Moses, Noah, Noah (ark) , Pharaoh, Prayer (content) , Prayer (of Noah) , Record of personal deeds, Religion, Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (of soul) , Sexual Relations, Ships, Slaves, Trees, Weather (rain) ,

Central Theme

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The central theme of the Surah is to invite the people to accept and follow the Message of the Prophet and the whole Surah revolves round this theme.

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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Allah begins the Surah by mentioning the traits of those who will be succesful and ends the Surah by mentioning the reason why the disbelievers will not be succesful.

  • قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ "Certainly will the believers have succeeded." (23:1)
  •  وَمَن يَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّـهِ إِلَـٰهًا آخَرَ لَا بُرْهَانَ لَهُ بِهِ فَإِنَّمَا حِسَابُهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ "And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof - then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed. " (23:117)


Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • The last Ayat of Surah Hajj ends with the mention of the fact that Allah Almighty has named the followers of Tawhid  as 'Muslims' - This Surah begins with the essential characteristics of who the Believers are. 

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 الْفِرْدَوْسِ Firdous (Paradise) appears only twice in the Qur'an. Once in Surah al-Kahf (18:107) and once in Surah al-Mumineen (23:11).
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat)

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

2 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 35 1722
ر ب ب 23 980
ٱلَّذِى 21 1464
أ ل ه 19 2851
ك و ن 17 1390
ق و م 13 660
إِلَّا 11 663
خ ل ق 10 261
إِذَا 10 409
ر س ل 9 513

Period of Revelation

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Both its style and theme indicate that it was revealed during the middle stage of Prophethood at Makkah. Reading between the lines one feels that a bitter conflict had begun between the Prophet and the disbelievers of Makkah though the persecution by them had not yet become tyrannical. It appears that the Surah was sent down during the climax of the “Famine” in Makkah (v. 75-76) which according to authentic traditions occurred during the middle stage of Prophethood. Moreover, according to a tradition related by ‘Urwah bin Zubair, Hadarat Umar who had embraced Islam by that time said, ‘This Surah was revealed in my presence and I myself observed the state of the Holy Prophet during its revelation. When the revelation ended the Holy Prophet remarked ‘On this occasion ten such verses have been sent down to me that the one who measures up to them will most surely go to Paradise’. Then he recited the initial verses of the Surah. (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Umar bin Al-Khattab [may Allah be pleased with him]:
    عُمَرَ بْنَ الْخَطَّابِ، رضى الله عنه يَقُولُ كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا نَزَلَ عَلَيْهِ الْوَحْىُ سُمِعَ عِنْدَ وَجْهِهِ كَدَوِيِّ النَّحْلِ فَأُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ يَوْمًا فَمَكَثْنَا سَاعَةً فَسُرِّيَ عَنْهُ فَاسْتَقْبَلَ الْقِبْلَةَ وَرَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ وَقَالَ ‏"‏ اللَّهُمَّ زِدْنَا وَلاَ تَنْقُصْنَا وَأَكْرِمْنَا وَلاَ تُهِنَّا وَأَعْطِنَا وَلاَ تَحْرِمْنَا وَآثِرْنَا وَلاَ تُؤْثِرْ عَلَيْنَا وَأَرْضِنَا وَارْضَ عَنَّا ‏"‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَالَ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏"‏ أُنْزِلَ عَلَىَّ عَشْرُ آيَاتٍ مَنْ أَقَامَهُنَّ دَخَلَ الْجَنَّةَ ‏"‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ ‏:‏ ‏(‏ قدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ ‏)‏ حَتَّى خَتَمَ عَشْرَ آيَاتٍ ‏.
    "When revelation came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), one could hear what sounded like the drone of bees before his face. One day revelation was coming to him, he faced the Qiblah, raised his hands and said: 'O Allah! Increase us, do not diminish us. Favor us, do not withhold from us, make us pleased and be pleased with us.' He (ﷺ) said: 'Ten Ayah were revealed to me, whoever abides by them shall enter Paradise (and they are): 'Successful indeed are the believers...' until the completion of then Ayat (23:1-10)." Tirmidhee 3173


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  • Characteristics of a true believers.
  • Stages of human creation.
  • The story of Prophet Nuh (pbuh) and the great flood.
  • The story of Hud (pbuh) and the blast of destruction.
  • The fact that Allah has not charged any soul with more than it can bear.
  • Guidance to repel evil with good and to seek the protection of Allah against the temptations of Shaitan.
  • The fact that on the Day of Judgement it will appear as if the life of this world was less than one day.
  • The fact that the disbelievers will never get salvation.

Tafsir Zone

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Miscellaneous Issues

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Scientific References

Human Embryonic Development

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ  ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ  " Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging.Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators. (23:13-14)

Western physicians, during the 16th century, believed that a human being’s origin began entirely in the male’s semen. They envisaged that inside the male semen was a miniscule, fully formed human being who grew larger once implanted into the womb of the mother.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the previously held view was replaced by the opinion that the ‘minuscule’ human instead formed out of the woman’s menstrual blood coagulating [thickening] and that the male semen was merely an activating agent. It was not until 1775, that Italian scientist Spallanzi established that both the male semen and female ovum were required to form the human embryo.

It was also not until modern times, with the help of the electron microscope, that scientists discovered the existence of chromosomes and genes and that human embryonic development takes place in successive distinct stages.

The terminology used to describe human development in the Qur’ān is characterized by descriptiveness and accuracy. Until recently these statements were not fully appreciated, since they referred to details in human development which were scientifically unknown in earlier times.

The stages in the Ayah [verse] can be summarised as follows:

  • Stage 1: The Nutfah
  • Stage 2: The ‘Alaqah
  • Stage 3: The Mudghah
  • Stage 4: Bone Formation [Idham]
  • Stage 5: Clothing the Bones with Flesh [Lahm]

Stage 1: The Nutfah

The Nutfah literally means ‘a [single] drop’ of fluid whereas Manii means ‘semen.’  God says, “Had he not been a sperm [nutfah] from semen [manii] emitted?” [Qur’ān 75:36]

In the Qur’ān and Hadith, Nutfah is used in three different but related contexts:

1. The Male Nutfah [Qur’ān 75:36]
2. The Female Nutfah
3. Nutfah Amshaj – mixed or mingled Male and Female Nutfah [Qur’ān 76:2] 

The Male Nutfah

The word Nutfah was mentioned twelve different times in the Qur’ān and the word Manii was mentioned thrice. In the male context, the Nutfah is a single particle from the Manii when it is ejaculated – i.e. a single cell [sperm] from amongst the 200-300 million sperm cells. Before the 16th century, writings on embryonic development did not distinguish the constituent parts of the semen in its role of fertilisation.

In Ayaat (75:36-40) and (53:45-46), there are a lot of facts that require careful consideration. We know the sex of the newborn is determined by the sperm - it is definitively stated that the male and female are fashioned from a sperm-drop from the semen that has been ejaculated. If a sperm carrying an X chromosome fertilises an ovum [which always contains an X chromosome], the offspring will be a girl, while if the fertilising sperm contains a Y chromosome, the offspring will be a boy.

The Qur’ān has stated this fact 1,400 years ago, before anybody knew anything about X and Y chromosomes.

The Female Nutfah

The Female Nutfah [ovum] per se is not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’ān, but is inferred in the term Nutfah Amshaj – i.e. mingled from both male and female [refer to Qur’ān 76:2]. However, it is clearly stated in the Hadith from the Prophet. A Jew came to the Prophet and asked, ‘O Muhammad. Tell me from what thing man is created.’ The Prophet said, ‘O Jew, from both Male and Female Nutfah, man is created.’
This is a very astonishing revelation, as it is only recently that we came to know that both male and female cells [sperm and ovum] join together to form the human zygote – a fact not known before the 19th century.

Stage 2: The ‘Alaqah Stage

Linguistic Analysis

According to many Arabic dictionaries, the word ‘alaqah includes the following meanings:

1. Attached and hanging to something,
2. Blood clot,
3. Leech.

1. ‘Alaqah as ‘attached and hanging’

The embryo [which is represented by the bilaminar embryonic disc] is attached to the placenta and is hanging or suspended in the chorionic cavity by the connecting stalk. This is in agreement with the meaning of the word ‘alaqah as “attached and hanging to something”.

During this stage we find that the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot.

“Implantation begins at about the 6th to 7th day after fertilization. The part of the blastocyst projecting into the uterine cavity remains relatively thin. The syntrophoblast contains a proteolytic enzyme which causes destruction of the endometrial cells so that that the blastocyst sinks deeper and deeper into the uterine mucosa…The final deficiency in the endometrium is sealed off by a blood or fibrin clot, overlying the blastocyst. This cover is called the operculum. By about 10 to 12 days after fertilization, the blastocyst is completely encased in the endometrium and thus, implantation is complete.” 

The blood, though fluid, does not circulate until the end of the third week. On the 21st day, the heart of the embryo connects with the blood vessels in the embryo, the connecting stalk, the chorion and the umbilical vesicle [yolk sac], and the blood starts to circulate and the heart begins to beat. Thus, the embryo takes the appearance of a blood clot even though its blood is fluid.

3. ‘Alaqah as ‘leech’

Scholars, linguists and dictionaries have all mentioned one of the meanings of ‘a .....read more

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