Surah Al-An’am
الأنعام‎ سورة

Asbab Nuzul: Surah Al-An-‘Am
Tafsir and Asbab Al-Nuzul
005 | Surah Al-An-‘Am – الأنعام‎ سورة

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Asbab An-Nuzul
Surah Al-An’Am

Sura Al-An-‘am (Arabic: الأنعام‎ سورة Sūratu al-An’ām, “The Cattle”) is the sixth chapter of the Qur’an, with 165 verses. It is a Makkan sura and its main topics are monotheism, resurrection, heaven and hell. The surah reports the story of the prophet Abraham,[Quran 6:74–80] who, by using his own reason, stops worshiping celestial bodies and turns towards Allah so that he could receive revelation.

Al-An’am – الأنعام

  • Classification: Makkan
  • Meaning of the name: The Cattle

Statistics

  • Sura number: 6
  • Number of verses: 165
  • Juz’ number: 7 to 8
  • Hizb number: 13 to 15
  • Number of Sajdahs: None
  • Previous Sura:        Al-Ma’ida
  • Next Sura:    Al-A’raf

Asbāb al-Nuzūl
Surah Al-An-‘Am

By: Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wāhidī

6:7.| Had we sent down unto thee (Muhammad) (actual) writing upon parchment…

[6:7]. Said al-Kalbi: “The idolaters of Mecca said: ‘O Muhammad, by Allah we will not believe until you bring us a book from Allah along with four angels with it, bearing witness that it is from Allah and that you are His messenger’, and so this verse was revealed”.

6:13.| Unto Him belongeth whatsoever resteth in the night and the day…

[6:13]. Reporting from Ibn ‘Abbas, al-Kalbi said: “The disbelievers of Mecca went to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace and said to him: ‘O Muhammad, we know that it is need that drives you to that which you are inviting us. We will therefore give you part of our wealth so that you become the richest man amongst us, on condition that you abandon this matter’. And then this verse was revealed”.

6:19.| (O Muhammad): What thing is of most weight in testimony…?

[6:19]. Said al-Kalbi: “The chiefs of Mecca said: ‘O Muhammad, we see that no one believes in what you say concerning the matter of messengership. We have asked the Jews and Christians about you and they claim that there is no description or mention of you in their Scriptures. So show us someone who will testify that you are a messenger, as you claim’. As a response, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

6:25.| Of them are some who listen unto thee…

[6:25]. Abu Salih reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, al-Walid ibn al-Mughirah, al-Nadr ibn al-Harith, ‘Utbah and Shaybah the sons of Rabi‘ah and Umayyah and Ubayy the sons of Khalaf listened to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him andgive him peace, [reciting the Qur’an], and so they asked al-Nadr: ‘O Abu Qutaylah, what does Muhammad say?’ He said: ‘By Him who has made it [the Ka‘bah ] His House, I do not know what he is saying, except that I see his lips moving, muttering something.

But what he says is nothing but the fables of the people of old, like the stories I used to relate to you regarding bygone nations’. Al-Nadr used to talk abundantly about bygone nations. He used to relate this to the Quraysh who listened to what he had to say. Then, Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

6:26.| And they forbid (men) from it and avoid it…

[6:26]. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abdan informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Nu’aym> ‘Ali ibn Hamshadh> Muhammad ibn Mandah al-Asfahani> Bakr ibn Bakkar> Hamzah ibn Habib> Habib ibn Thabit> Sa’id ibn Jubayr> Ibn ‘Abbas who said, regarding Allah’s word (And they forbid (men) from it and avoid it…):

“It was revealed about Abu Talib who used to warn the idolaters against harming the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, but, at the same time, kept away from that which was revealed to him”. This was also the opinion of ‘Ata’ ibn Dinar and al-Qasim ibn Mukhaymarah. Said Muqatil: “This is because the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, went to see Abu Talib to invite him to embrace Islam when the Quraysh gathered at Abu Talib’s, intending to harm the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Abu Talib said: By Allah, they will not reach to you with all their numbers Until I am laid buried in the ground. So carry on with you matter unobstructed And receive a glad tiding and peace of mind. And you have presented a religion which is most certainly One of the best religions on earth. Had it not been for fear of reproach or being insulted You would have found me a firm believer in it.

Allah, exalted is He, revealed: (And they forbid (men) from it and avoid it)”. Said Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, al-Suddi and al-Dahhak: “This was revealed about the unbelievers of Mecca. They used to forbid people from following Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, and they themselves stayed away from him”. This is also the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas according to the report of al-Walibi.

6:33.| We know well how their talk grieveth thee…

[6:33]. Said al-Suddi: “Al-Akhnas ibn Shurayq and Abu Jahl ibn Hisham met with each other and the former said to the latter: ‘O Abu’l-Hakam, tell me about Muhammad, for there is one here with us who wants to hear what you say: is he truthful or a liar?’ Abu Jahl responded: ‘By Allah, Muhammad is truthful. Muhammad has never lied. But if Banu Qusayy take the office of keepers of the banner, giving water to the pilgrims, gatekeeper of the House, the Nadwah and prophethood, what else remains for the rest of Quraysh?’ And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

Said Abu Maysarah: “The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, once passed by Abu Jahl and his companions, and they asked him: ‘O Muhammad, by Allah, we do not give you the lie, for we consider you truthful. What we deny is that which you have brought’. And so this verse was revealed (though in truth they deny not thee (Muhammad) but evil-doers flout the revelations of Allah)”. Said Muqatil:

“This verse was revealed about al-Harith ibn ‘Amir ibn Nawfal ibn ‘Abd Manaf ibn Qusayy ibn Kilab. This man used to give the lie openly to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, but when he retired to his family, he would say: ‘Muhammad is not of those who lie, and I think he is truthful’, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. [6:52] (Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance…) [6:52].

Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ja’far informed us> Zahir ibn Ahmad> al-Husayn ibn Muhammad ibn Mus’ab> Yahya ibn Hakim> Abu Dawud> Qays ibn al-Rabi’> al-Miqdam ibn Shurayh> his father> Sa’d who said: “This verse was revealed about six of us: it was revealed about me, [‘Abd Allah] ibn Mas’ud, Suhayb [al-Rumi], ‘Ammar [ibn Yasir], al-Miqdad [ibn ‘Amr] and Bilal [ibn Rabah].

The Quraysh said to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace: ‘We do not accept to be followers of these, so repel them’. Some of what they said entered the heart of Allah’s Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, as much as Allah willed it to enter. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance…)”.

This was narrated by Muslim from Zuhayr ibn Harb from ‘Abd al-Rahman from Sufyan from al-Miqdam. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman informed us> Abu Bakr ibn Abu Zakariyya al-Shaybani> Abu’l-‘Abbas Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman> Abu Salih al-Husayn ibn al-Faraj> Muhammad ibn Muqatil al-Marwazi> Hakim ibn Zayd> al-Suddi> Abu Sa’id>> Abu’l-Kanud> Khabbab ibn al-Aratt who said: “This verse was revealed about us.

We were weak and stayed at the Prophet’s, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the morning and evening. He taught us the Qur’an and goodness and instilled fear in us through the mention of hellfire and the Garden and also through that which benefits us and by means of mention of death and the Resurrection.

One day, al-Aqra’ ibn Habis al-Tamimi and ‘Uyaynah ibn Hisn al-Fazari came to the Prophet and said: ‘We are among the nobles of our people and we dislike that we be seen with them, so could you repel them when we sit with you?’ The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, agreed, but they said: ‘We will not be pleased until you write an agreement between us’.

When skin and ink were brought, these verses were revealed (Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance) up to His words (And even so do We try some of them by others) [6:53]”. Abu Bakr al-Harithi informed us> Abu Muhammad ibn Hayyan> Abu Yahya al-Razi> Sahl ibn ‘Uthman> Asbat ibn Muhammad> Ash’ath> Kurdus> Ibn Mas’ud who said:

“A group of people from Quraysh passed by the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, while he had with him Khabbab ibn al-Aratt, Suhayb, Bilal and ‘Ammar, and they said: ‘O Muhammad, are you pleased with these? Do you want us to be followers of these?’ And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance)”.

And with the same chain of transmission, ‘Ubayd Allah related to us> Abu Ja’far> al-Rabi’ who said: “There were some men who were always forerunners to the assembly of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. Among these men were Bilal, ‘Ammar, Suhayb and Salman [al-Farisi]. The nobles and chiefs of his people would come to see him and find all the aforementioned already sitting with him.

In one occasion they said: ‘Suhayb is a Byzantine, Salman a Persian, Bilal an Abyssinian: they all come and sit close to him whereas when we come we sit on the side’. And then they mentioned this to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. They said to him: ‘We are the nobles and chiefs of your clan, why do you not sit closer to us when we come to see you’. He was about to do just that when Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

Said ‘Ikrimah: “A group of unbeliever nobles from Banu ‘Abd Manaf headed by ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah, Shaybah ibn Rabi’ah, Mut’im ibn ‘Adiyy, al-Harith ibn Nawfal went to Abu Talib and said: ‘If only your nephew Muhammad repels from him our clients, slaves and downtrodden, it would please us, mean a great deal to us and would be a step forward for us to follow him and believe in him’.

Abu Talib went and conveyed to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, what they said. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab commented: ‘Why do you not do as they ask so that we consider what they want and verify whether they are truthful?’ Then Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse. When it was revealed, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab went and apologized for what he had said”.

6:54.| And when those who believe in Our revelations come unto thee, say: Peace be unto you…!

[6:54]. Said ‘Ikrimah: “This verse was revealed about those whom Allah, exalted is He, had forbidden His Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, from repelling. Whenever the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, saw them, he greeted them first with the greeting of peace, and then said: ‘Praise be to Allah Who has made in my community people whom He has commanded me to initiate their greeting with the greeting of peace’”.

Said Mahan al-Hanafi: “The clan of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, went to him and said: ‘We have committed enormous sins’, and I think he answered them with something. When they left, this verse was revealed (And when those who believe in Our revelations come…)”.

6:57.| Say: I am (relying) on clear proof from my Lord…

[6:57]. Said al-Kalbi: “This verse was revealed about al-Nadr ibn al-Harith and the chiefs of Quraysh. They used to say mockingly to the Prophet: ‘O Muhammad bring on us the chastisement you promised us’, and so this verse was revealed”.

6:91.| And they measure not the power of Allah its true measure when they say: Allah hath naught revealed unto a human being…

[6:91]. Al-Walibi reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Jews said to the Prophet: ‘O Muhammad, has Allah revealed a Scripture to you?’ The Prophet answered: ‘Yes, He did!’ They said: ‘By Allah, Allah has never sent down any Scripture from heaven’. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (Say (unto the Jews who speak thus): Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and guidance for mankind…)”.

Muhammad ibn Ka‘b al-Quradi said: “Allah commanded Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, to ask the people of the Book about his matter and how he is mentioned in their Scriptures. However, their resentful envy toward Muhammad drove them to disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger.

They said: ‘Allah has never revealed anything to any human being’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Sa‘id ibn Jubayr said: “A Jew by the name of Malik ibn al-Sayf went to argue with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said to him: ‘I plead with you by Him Who has revealed the Torah to Moses, do you not find in the Torah that Allah loathes the fat rabbi?’ Because this Jew was a fat rabbi, he got angry and said: ‘By Allah, Allah has never sent anything to any human being’. Horrified, his companions exclaimed: ‘Woe unto you, not even to Moses!’ He said: ‘By Allah, Allah has never sent anything to any human being’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

6:93.| Who is guilty of more wrong than he who forgeth a lie against Allah, or saith: I am inspired…

[6:93]. This was revealed about the liar, Musaylimah al-Hanafi. This man was a soothsayer who composed rhymed speech and claimed prophethood. He claimed that he was inspired by Allah. (… and who saith: I will reveal the like of that which Allah hath revealed?)

[6:93]. This verse was revealed about ‘Abd Allah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh. This man had declared his faith in Islam and so the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, called him one day to write something for him. When the verses regarding the believers were revealed (Verily, We created man from a product of wet earth…) [23:12-14], the Prophet dictated them to him.

When he reached up to (and then produced it as another creation), ‘Abd Allah expressed his amazement at the precision of man’s creation by saying (So blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators!). The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “This [‘Abd Allah’s last expression] is how it was revealed to me”. At that point, doubt crept into ‘Abd Allah. He said: “If Muhammad is truthful, then I was inspired just as he was; and if he is lying, I have uttered exactly what he did utter”.

Hence Allah’s words (and who saith: I will reveal the like of that which Allah hath revealed). The man renounced Islam. This is also the opinion of Ibn ‘Abbas according to the report of al-Kalbi. ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Abdan informed us> Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Nu’aym> Muhammad ibn Ya’qub al-Umawi> Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbar> Yunus ibn Bukayr> Muhammad ibn Ishaq> Shurahbil ibn Sa’d who said: “This verse was revealed about ‘Abd Allah ibn Sa’d ibn Abi Sarh.

The latter said: ‘I will reveal the like of that which Allah has revealed’, and renounced Islam. When the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, entered Mecca, this man fled to ‘Uthman [ibn ‘Affan] who was his milk brother. ‘Uthman hid him until the people of Mecca felt safe. He then took him to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, and secured an amnesty for him”.

6:100.| Yet they ascribe as partners unto Him the jinn…

[6:100]. Al-Kalbi said: “This verse was revealed about the atheists who claimed that Allah and Satan were two brothers; that Allah was the creator of human beings, beasts and cattle whereas Satan was the creator of vipers, predatory animals and scorpions. Hence Allah’s saying (Yet they ascribe as partners unto Him the jinn)”.

6:108.| Revile not those unto whom they pray beside Allah lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance…

[5:108]. Said ibn ‘Abbas, according to the report of al-Walibi: “They [the idolaters] said: ‘O Muhammad, either you stop reviling our idols or we will revile your Lord’. And so Allah, exalted is He, warned against reviling their idols lest they wrongfully revile Allah through ignorance”. Qatadah said: “The Muslims used to revile the idols of the unbelievers and the latter used to react against them.

Allah, exalted is He, therefore, warned the Muslims against being the cause which drives ignorant unbelievers, who have no knowledge of Allah, to revile Allah as a result of reviling their idols”. Said al-Suddi: “When Abu Talib was dying, [some chiefs of] the Quraysh said: ‘let us go to this man and ask him to forbid his nephew from reviling our idols, for we feel shame to kill him after he passes away and drive the Arabs to say: ‘He used to defend him but once he passed away, they killed him’.

And so Abu Sufyan, Abu Jahl, al-Nadr ibn al-Harith, Umayyah and Ubayy the sons of Khalaf, ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu‘ayt, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, al-Aswad ibn al-Bukhturi went to see Abu Talib. They said to him: ‘You are our master and chief, but Muhammad has harmed us and harmed our idols. We would like you to call him and warn him against speaking ill of our idols. And from our part, we will leave him alone to his Allah’.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, went when he was summoned. Abu Talib said to him: ‘These are your people and cousins!’ The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked them: ‘What do you want?’ They said: ‘We want you to leave us alone with our idols and we will leave you alone with your Allah’. Abu Talib said: ‘Your people are being fair with you, so give your consent’.

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘If I agree to this would you agree to give me one sentence, if you were to utter it, you would rule over the Arabs and non-Arabs alike?’ Abu Jahl said: ‘Yes, by your father, we will give it to you and also give you ten other things like it; but what is it? He said: ‘Say: there is no god but Allah!’ They refused and expressed their aversion at this proposal, upon which Abu Talib said; ‘Son of my brother, ask for something else, for your people are wary of this’.

He said: ‘O uncle, I am not one who would ask for other than that. If they were to place the sun in my hand, I would not ask for anything other than that’. The chiefs of Quraysh said: ‘You would better stop reviling our idols or we will revile you and revile He Who commands you’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

6:109-111.| And they swear a solemn oath by Allah that if there come unto them a portent they will believe therein…)

6:109.| up to (Howbeit, most of them are ignorant)

6:111.| Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Fadl informed us> Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Umawi> Ahmad ‘Abd al-Jabbar> Yunus ibn Bukayr> Abu Ma‘shar> Muhammad ibn Ka‘b who said: “The Quraysh spoke to the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace. They said: ‘You inform us that Moses, peace be upon him, had a staff with which he struck a stone and twelve springs gushed forth, and that Jesus, peace be upon him, revived the dead, and that Thamud had a camel; why do you not bring us some of those signs so that we believe in you?’

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, asked them: ‘What sign do you want me to bring you?’ They said: ‘Turn [mount] al-Safa into gold’. He said: ‘Would you believe in me if I did as you ask?’ They said: ‘Yes, by Allah, if you do, we will all follow you’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, stood up and began supplicating. Then, Gabriel, peace be upon him, came to him and said: ‘If you wish, I can turn al-Safa into gold.

However, never did I send a sign that people disbelieved in except that I sent chastisement after it. If you wish, I will leave them until some of them decide to repent’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘Leave them until some of them decide to repent’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (And they swear a solemn oath by Allah that if there come unto them a portent they will believe therein) up to His words (… they would not believe unless Allah so willed…) [6:111]”.

6:121.| And eat not of that whereon Allah’s name hath not been mentioned…

[6:121]. The idolaters said: “O Muhammad, tell us: ‘When a sheep dies, who has killed it?’ He said: ‘Allah killed it!’ They said: ‘How is it then that that which is killed by you and your Companions is lawful, that which is killed by a dog or bird of prey is lawful but that which is killed by Allah is unlawful?’ And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

Said ‘Ikrimah: “When Allah, exalted is He, revealed the unlawfulness of the meat of carrion, the Magians among the people of Persia wrote to the idolaters of Quraysh, who were their allies in the pre-Islamic period and kept contact with each other, that Muhammad and his Companions claim that they follow the command of Allah but then say that what they slaughter is lawful and that which is slaughtered by Allah is unlawful. This caused doubt in the minds of some Muslims, and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”.

6:122.| Is he who was dead and We have raised him unto life…

[6:122]. Said Ibn ‘Abbas: “This refers to Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and Abu Jahl. This is because Abu Jahl had thrown the refuse of an animal on the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, when Hamzah was not a believer yet. Hamzah was informed about the deed of Abu Jahl upon his return from hunting and he still had his bow in his hand.

Hamzah went straight to Abu Jahl and hit him with his bow while Abu Jahl begged him, saying: ‘O Abu Ya‘la, do you not see what he has brought; he has ridiculed our understanding, reviled our idols and opposed our forefathers’. Hamzah responded: ‘And who is more foolish than you? You worship stones instead of Allah.

I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, without associates, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger’. And then Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Abu Bakr al-Harithi informed us> Abu Muhammad ibn Hayyan> ‘Abd Allah ibn Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub and al-Walid ibn Aban> Abu Hatim> Abu Taqqi> Baqiyyah ibn al-Walid> Mubashshir ibn ‘Ubayd> Zayd ibn Aslam said:

“Allah’s words (Is he who was dead and We have raised him unto life, and set for him a light wherein he walketh among men) refer to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab while His words (as him whose similitude is in utter darkness whence he cannot emerge) refers to Abu Jahl ibn Hisham”.