Overview - Surah 57: al-Hadid (The Iron )

Naming Convention of the Surah

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This Surah takes its name from the Ayat, وَأَنزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ "...And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might ..." (57:25).

There are  29 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat29
Total Words574
Root Words180
Unique Root Words0
Makki / MadaniMadani
Chronological Order* 94th (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
Nuh, Ibrahim, Isa,
Surah Index
Abraham, God (ability to do anything) , God (grants life and death) , God (is the) (First and the Last), God (is the) (Outward and Inward), Behaviour (conceit discouraged) , Charity, Charity (niggardliness) , Children, Earth, Earth (creation of) (in six days), Earth (inclination of rotational axis to orbital plane) , Gospel, Hell, Hypocrites, Iron, Jews (and Christians) (have no rights to claim God’s bounty exclusively), Jihad, Judgement (Day) , Materialism, Metallurgy (iron) , Monastic asceticism (some types criticised) , Noah, Revelation, Sexes (equality of) , Weather (rain) ,

Central Theme

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The theme of this Surah is to exhort the Muslims to spend in the cause of God. At the most critical juncture of the history of Islam when it was engaged in a life and death struggle against Arab paganism, this Surah was revealed to persuade the Muslim’s to make monetary sacrifices in particular, and to make them realise that Islam did not merely consist in verbal affirmation and some outward practices but its essence and spirit is sincerity towards God and His Religion. The faith of the one who was devoid of this spirit and who regarded his own self and wealth as dearer to himself than God and His Religion, was hollow and therefore of little worth in the sight of God. For this object, first the attributes of God Almighty have been mentioned so that the listeners may fully realise as to Who is addressing them. Then, the following themes have been expressed in sequence:

1. The inevitable demand of the Faith is that one should not avoid spending one’s wealth for the sake of God. This would not only be contrary to the Faith but also wrong realistically. For the wealth indeed belongs to God, on which man has been given proprietary rights only as His vicegerent. Yesterday this wealth was in other people’s possession; today it is with one particular man, and tomorrow it will pass into someone else’s hand. Ultimately, it will go back to God, Who is the inheritor of everything in the universe. The only amount of wealth that will be of any use to a man, is that amount which he spends in the cause of God during the period it is in his possession.

2. Although making sacrifices for the sake of God is commendable in any case, the true worth of these sacrifices is determined by the nature of the occasion. There is an occasion when the power of paganism is overwhelming and there is a danger that it might subdue and overcome Islam completely; there is another occasion when Islam is in a stronger position in its struggle against un-Islam and the believers are attaining victories. Both these states are not equal as regards their respective importance. Therefore, the sacrifices that are made in these different states would also not be equal. Those who sacrifice their lives and expend their wealth to further promote the cause of Islam when it is already strong cannot attain to the rank of those who struggled with their lives to promote and uphold the cause of Islam when it was weak.

3. Whatever is spent for the cause of the Truth is a loan on God, and God will not only return it increasing it manifold but will also give from Himself the best reward for it.

4. In the Hereafter the Light shall be bestowed only on those believers who would have spent their wealth in the cause of God. As for the hypocrites who watched and served only their own interests in the world, and who least bothered whether the Truth or falsehood prevailed will be segregated from the believers in the Hereafter although they might have lived in close association with them in the world. They will be deprived of the Light, and they will be counted among the disbelievers.

5. The Muslims should not behave like those followers of the earlier Books, whose lives have been spent in the worship of the world and whose hearts have become hardened due to negligence with the passage of time. He cannot be a believer whose heart does not melt at the remembrance of God and does not bow to the Truth sent down by Him.

6. The sincere upholders of the Truth and the true witnesses of the Faith in the sight of God are only those believers who spend their wealth in His way sincerely, without any desire of show.

7. The life of this world is only a short lived spring and a means of pride and show. Its sports and pastimes, its adornments and decorations, its pride of place, its wealth and possessions, for which the people try to oppose with one another, are transient. Its likeness is of the crop which flourishes and blooms, then turns pale and then finally is reduced to chaff. The everlasting life, is the life hereafter when results of great consequence will be announced. Therefore, if one has to complete with another for something, one should strive for Paradise.

8. Whatever good man meets with and whatever hardship he suffers in the world, are preordained by God. A true believer is he who does not lose heart in affliction and is not puffed up with pride in good times. It is the character of a hypocrite and disbeliever that he is puffed up with pride when God favours him with His blessings, behaved boastfully and shows stinginess when called upon to spend in the cause of the same God Who blessed him, and also counsels others to be stingy like himself.

9. God sent His Messengers with clear signs and the Book and the Law of Justice so that the people may adhere to justice; besides, He sent down iron also so that power may be used to establish the Truth and vanquish falsehood. Thus, God likes to see as to who from among the people would rise to support and aid His true Religion even at the risk of their lives. These opportunities God has created for man’s own advantage and development; otherwise God does not stand in need of others for His works.

10. Prophets came from God in the past, and by their preaching some people adopted the Right Path, but most of them persisted in wickedness. Then the Prophet Jesus came, whose teachings brought about many moral improvements in the lives of the people, but his community invented monasticism. Now God has sent the Prophet Muhammad. Those who affirm faith in him and pass their life fearing God’s accountability, will be given by God a double share of His mercy and He will bless them with the Light by which they will see and walk the straight path among the crooked paths met with at every step in the life of this world. Although the followers of the earlier revelation regard themselves as the monopolists of God’s bounties, the fact remains that God Himself controls His bounties He may bless with these whomever He pleases.

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Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Allah Almighty has strenghtened His slaves by sending down Iron to them. Iron has many benefits for humanity, including weapons for battle. Iron is a crucial building block of steel and is even involved in nourishing plants and helping carry oxygen in our blood. Iron is a brittle, hard substance, classified as a metal in Group 8 on the Periodic Table of the Elements. The most abundant of all metals, its pure form rapidly corrodes from exposure to moist air and high temperatures. Iron is also the fourth most common element in Earth's crust by weight and much of Earth's core is thought to be composed of iron.

Ninety percent of all metal that is refined these days is iron, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Most of it is used to make steel — an alloy of iron and carbon — which is in turn used in manufacturing and civil engineering.

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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  • Surah al-Waqiah ends with  فَسَبِّحْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الْعَظِيمِ "So exalt the name of your Lord, the Most Great." (56:96) and Surah al-Hadeed begins with, سَبَّحَ لِلَّـهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ  "Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (57:1) 

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 Nur [Light] has been used a number of times. (57:9) (57:12) (57:13) (57:19) (57:28)
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat)

Period of Revelation

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This is unanimously a Madīnan Surah, and a study of its subject matter shows that it was probably sent down some time during the interval between the Battle of Uhud and the Truce of Hudaibiyah. This was the time when the tiny Islamic State of Madīnah had been hemmed in by the disbelievers and the handful of the ill equipped Muslims were entrenched against the combined power of entire Arabia. In this state Islam not only stood in need of the sacrifice of Life from its followers, but it also needed monetary help and assistance. In this Surah a forceful appeal has been made for the same. This view is further strengthened by verse 10 in which God has addressed the believers to the effect: “Those of you who would spend and fight after the victory can never be equal to those who have spent and fought before the victory.” And the same is supported by the traditions that Ibn Marduyah has related on the authority of Anas (a famous companion), in respect of v16, “Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of God…”, he says that 17 years after the commencement of the revelation of the Qur’an this verse was sent down to arouse the believers to action. Thus it is thought that the period of the revelation of this Surah falls between the 4th and 5th year after the migration (Hijra).

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Allah created the heavens and earth in six periods and has the knowledge of everything.
  • Wealth truely belongs to Allah. He gives it to Man as a responsibility. (57:7)
  • A reminder of the contract that Man has with Allah (57:8)
  • The superiority of those who spent their wealth in charity before the conquest (57:10)
  • The situation of the apostates and hypocrites on the Day of Judgement (57:13) (57:15)
  • On that Day, the true believers will have their light shining before them while the hypocrites will have a fate similar to the disbelievers.
  • Those who spend in charity will be repaid manyfold and also be given a liberal reward besides it.
  • The life of this world is but play, amusement and illusion.
  • Do not grieve for the things that you miss, nor overjoy at what you gain.
  • Prophets Nuh, Ibrahim and Isa (Jesus) were sent for guidance to the Right Path, as for the monasticism, people instituted it themselves.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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