Surah Al-Insaan

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The Human Being


Name of Chapter and Reason for its name

This chapter is called Surah Al-Insaan and the name of this chapter has been taken from its first verse which mentions the time before the creation of man.

Chapter Number

This is the 76th chapter of the Quran.

Number of Verses

This chapter contains 31 verses. [1]

Place of Revelation

Some Quranic exegetes consider this chapter to be revealed in Mecca, [2] while others consider it to be Madani in origin. [3]


Important Concepts in this Chapter

Verses 1-3

An account of man’s creation and free-will.

The first few verses of this chapter point to man’s creation from a sperm, and Allah’s guidance to him to follow the right path. It is now up to the person to be thankful for this guidance or be ungrateful. [4]

Verses 5-22

Mentions about the reward of the righteous and the basis for this reward.

These verses having mentioned the reward of the righteous (abraar) describe in detail the features of these rewards. They also mention the virtues and actions that enable the righteous to deserve Allah’s Divine rewards. [5]

Verses 24-27

Commands the Prophet to observe patience, to prostrate, and show resilience against the infidels and the polytheists.

These verses command the Prophet to be patient and steadfast in observing Allah’s rulings and to not follow the sinning infidels and those who are attached to the fleeting life of this material world. The verses advise the Prophet to be in a state of constant remembrance of the (name of the) Lord, to prostrate before Him, and be in a continuous state of devotion to Him. As an extension, this command has been spread to the entire nation (community of believers). [6]

Verses 28-31

A reference to the Sovereignty of the Will of Allah without hampering man’s free-will.

The last few verses point to the Sovereignty of Allah’s Will, but at the same time materializes with the free-will of man. [7]

Discussions on this Chapter

According to the Sunni Traditions

Benefits of Reciting this Surah:

عن رسول ‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلم: من قرأ سورة هل أتی کان جزاؤه علی الله جنة و حریرا

It has been narrated from the Prophet that: “Whoever recites the chapter ‘Hal ata’ - his recompense with Allah will be the Paradise and silken garments.” [8]

Man’s success lies in being grateful to Allah.

Verse 3: “Indeed We have guided him to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful.”

إِنَّا هَدَيۡنَٰهُ ٱلسَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرٗا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا ٣ من روایة جابر بن عبد الله رضی‌الله‌عنه قال: قال رسول‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلّم «کل مولود یولد علی الفطرة حتی یعرب عنه لسانه فإذا أعرب عنه لسانه فإما شاکرا و إما کفورا

It has been narrated from Jabir ibn Abdullah Ansari that the Holy Prophet said: “Every child is born on sound disposition (fitrah) until he is clearly able to express himself through words, then at this point he is either grateful or ungrateful.” [9]

قال الإمام أحمد حدثنا أبو عامر، حدثنا عبد الله بن جعفر عن عثمان بن محمد عن المقبری عن أبی هریرة رضی‌الله‌عنه عن النبی صلی‌الله علیه و سلّم قال: «ما من خارج یخرج إلا ببابه رایتان: رایة بید ملک و رایة بید شیطان، فإن خرج لما یحب الله اتبعه الملک برایته، فلم یزل تحت رایة الملک حتی یرجع إلی بیته و إن خرج لما یسخط الله اتبعه الشیطان برایته فلم یزل تحت رایة الشیطان حتی یرجع إلی بیته».

Imam Ahmad said that it was narrated to him by Abu Aamir, who narrated from Abdullah ibn Jafar, from Uthman ibn Muhammad, from Al-Maqbari, from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet said: “There is no one who leaves his door except that on his door are two flags: a flag in the hand of an angel and another in the hand of Satan. If he leaves his house for a task that is loved by Allah, then the angel follows him with his flag, and thus he remains under the flag of the angel until he returns to his house. But if he leaves his house to perform a task that brings Allah’s displeasure, then Satan follows him with his flag, and he remains under the flag of Satan until he returns to his house.” [10]

A vow must not result in the disobedience of Allah:

قال الإمام مالک عن طلحة بن عبد الملک الأیلی عن القاسم بن مالک عن عائشة رضی‌الله‌عنها أن رسول‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلّم قال: من نذر أن یطیع الله فلیطعه و من نذر أن یعصی الله فلا یعصه

Imam Malik narrates from Talha ibn Abd al-Malik al-Ayli who narrates from Qasim ibn Maalik who narrates from Aisha who narrates from the Prophet that:“Whoever makes a vow to obey Allah, should obey Him; but whoever makes a vow to disobey Allah, should not disobey Him.” [11]

Occasion of Revelation of this Chapter:

و عن ابن عباس رضی الله عنه: أنّ الحسن و الحسین مرضا، فعادهما رسول‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلم فی ناس معه، فقالوا: یا أبا الحسن، لو نذرت علی ولدک ، فنذر علی و فاطمة و فضة جاریة لهما إن برآ مما بهما: أن یصوموا ثلاثة أیام، فشفیا و ما معهم شی‌ء، فاستقرض علی من شمعون الخیبری الیهودی ثلاث أصوع من شعیر، فطحنت فاطمة صاعا و اختبزت خمسة أقراص علی عددهم، فوضعوها بین أیدیهم لیفطروا فوقف علیهم سائل فقال: السلام علیکم أهل بیت محمد، مسکین من مساکین المسلمین، أطعمونی أطعمکم الله من موائد الجنة، فآثروه و باتوا لم یذوقوا إلا الماء و أصبحوا صیاما، فلما أمسوا و وضعوا الطعام بین أیدیهم وقف علیهم یتیم، فآثروه و وقف علیهم أسیر فی الثالثة، ففعلوا مثل ذلک، فلما أصبحوا أخذ علی رضی الله عنه بید الحسن و الحسین و أقبلوا إلی رسول‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلم، فلما أبصرهم و هم یرتعشون کالفراخ من شدّة الجوع قال: ما أشد ما یسوؤنی ما أری بکم و قام فانطلق معهم فرأی فاطمة فی محراب‌ها قد التصق ظهرها ببطنها و غارت عیناها. فساءه ذلک، فنزل جبریل و قال: خذها یا محمد هنأک الله فی أهل بیتک فأقرأه السورة.

It has been narrated from Ibn Abbas that: “Hasan and Husayn became ill, and so the Prophet came to visit them along with a few people. Some among the gathering advised Imam Ali to make a vow for the healthy recovery of Hasan and Husayn. Thus Imam Ali, Lady Fatimah and Fizza (who was their servant) made a vow that if Hasan and Husayn regained their health, they will fast for three days. When Hasan and Husayn regained their health there was no food in Ali’s house, so Imam Ali took some barley from Shamoon, the Jew from Khaybar, on loan. Fatima made 5 loaves of breads from one-third of the barley for iftaar. When they were about to break their fasts (have iftaar) a needy person came to their door: “Peace be upon you, O Family of the Prophet, a needy Muslim is at your door-step, give me food, for Allah shall feed you from the food of Heaven.” The family of the Prophet gave their bread in charity, and even Fizza also followed their example. They did not have anything to eat except for water until the next day.

They again fasted the next day. When they were about to break their fast with the barley-bread, an orphan came to their door asking for food and all of them gave their bread to the orphan in charity, similar to the day before. On the third day, a captive came and demanded food. Similar to the days before, all that they had was given to him in charity.

On the fourth day Ali took Hasan and Husayn to the Prophet. When the Prophet’s eyes fell on Hasan and Husayn who were trembling with hunger like two small birds, he said: “It is very difficult for me to see you like this.” The Prophet without further delay got up and accompanied them to the house of Lady Zahra. He saw her praying in her prayer niche while her stomach had sunk into her back-bone and her eyes had become sunken as well. The Prophet was overcome by grief upon seeing this. On this occasion Jibrail descended (from the heavens) and said: “O Muhammad, receive (this surah), Allah congratulates you for having such a family.” It was then that Jibrail recited the chapter ‘Hal-ata’ (and this chapter was revealed to the Prophet).” [12]

The magnificent kingdom for the believers in the Hereafter:

ثویر بن أبی فاختة عن ابن عمر قال: قال رسول‌الله صلی‌الله علیه و سلّم: «إن أدنی أهل الجنة منزلة لمن ینظر فی ملکه مسیرة ألف سنة ینظر إلی أقصاه کما ینظر إلی أدناه

Thuvayr ibn Abi Fakhta narrates from Ibn Umar who said: “The Holy Prophet said: ‘The status of the lowest people in Paradise will have a kingdom that will take a thousand years to traverse. One will look at its far expanses in the same way that one looks at areas in one’s kingdom that are nearby.’” [13]

According to the Shia Traditions

Benefits of Reciting this Surah:

قَالَ أَبُو جَعْفَرٍ مَنْ قَرَأَ سُورَةَ هَلْ أَتَی فِی کلِّ غَدَاةِ خَمِیسٍ زَوَّجَهُ الله مِنَ الْحُورِ الْعِینِ مِائَةِ عَذْرَاءَ وَ أَرْبَعَةَ آلَافِ ثَیبٍ وَ کانَ مَعَ مُحَمَّدٍ ص.

It has been narrated from Abu Jafar that: “Whoever recites ‘Surah Hal-ata’ early morning on Thursdays, Allah will marry him with 100 maidens (houris) untouched by another man, along with 4000 non-virgin houris, and he will be with Prophet Muhammad (in the Hereafter).” [14]

Another report about the occasion of revelation:

Apart from the narration which was mentioned above, another report also highlights the occasion of revelation for this surah:

عَنْ عَبْدِ الله بْنِ مَیمُونٍ عَنْ أَبِی عَبْدِ الله قَالَ: کانَ عِنْدَ فَاطِمَةَ شَعِیرُ فَجَعَلُوهُ عَصِیدَةً فَلَمَّا أَنْضَجُوهَا وَ وَضَعُوهَا بَینَ أَیدِیهِمْ جَاءَ مِسْکینُ فَقَالَ: مِسْکینُ رَحِمَکمُ الله فَقَامَ عَلَی فَأَعْطَاهُ ثُلُثاً - فَلَمْ یلْبَثْ أَنْ جَاءَ یتِیمُ فَقَالَ: الْیتِیمُ رَحِمَکمُ الله - فَقَامَ عَلَی فَأَعْطَاهُ الثُّلُثِ ثُمَّ جَاءَ أَسِیرُ فَقَالَ: الْأَسِیرُ رَحِمَکمُ الله فَأَعْطَاهُ عَلَی الثُّلُثُ - وَ مَا ذَاقُوهَا فَأَنْزَلَ الله سُبْحَانَهُ الْآیاتِ فِیهِمْ - وَ هِی جَارِیةُ فِی کلِّ مُؤْمِنٍ فَعَلَ ذَلِک لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ.

It has been narrated from Abdullah ibn Maymun that Abu Abdillah said: “Fatimah had barley which she turned into porridge. When this was cooked and placed before the Family of the Prophet, a needy person came and said: ‘I am a needy person, (help me) and Allah shall have mercy on you.’ Thus Ali rose up and gave one-third of the food to him. After a short while an orphan came and said: ‘I am an orphan, (help me), and Allah shall have mercy on you.’ Thus Ali gave one-third of the food to him as well. Thereafter, a captive showed up at their doorstep and said: ‘I am a captive, (help me), and Allah shall have mercy on you.’ Thus Ali gave the remaining one-third of the food to him and the Ahl al-Bayt did not eat any food. It was here that Allah revealed these verses in honour of them. Every believer who carries out a similar righteous act for the pleasure of Allah will partake in this virtue.” [15]

The importance of feeding and clothing the needy:

فِی الْحَدِیثِ عَنْ أَبِی سَعِیدِ الْخُدْرِی أَنَّ النَّبِی ص قَالَ مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ أَطْعَمَ مُسْلِماً عَلَی جُوعٍ إِلَّا أَطْعَمَهُ الله مِنْ ثِمَارِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ کسَا أَخَاهُ عَلَی عُرْی إِلَّا کسَاهُ الله مِنْ خَضِرِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ مَنْ سَقَی مُسْلِماً عَلَی ظَمَإٍ سَقَاهُ الله مِنَ الرَّحِیقِ

Abu Saeed Khudri narrates from the Prophet who said: “No one among the Muslims offers his food to another Muslim who is hungry except that Allah will offer him heavenly fruits. No one among the Muslims clothes a fellow Muslim who does not have clothes, except that Allah will clothe him with green garments from Heaven. Whoever offers water to another believer who is thirsty, Allah will quench his thirst with a pure heavenly drink. [16]

Nothing happens without Allah’s Will:

فِی الدُّرِّ الْمَنْثُورِ، أَخْرَجَ ابْنُ مَرْدَوَیهِ مِنْ طَرِیقِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ عَنْ سَالِمٍ عَنْ أَبِی هُرَیرَةَ أَنَّ رسول‌الله ص کانَ یقُولُ إِذَا خَطَبَ: کلُّ مَا هُوَ آتٍ قَرِیبُ، لَا بَعْدُ لِمَا یأْتِی، وَ لَا یعْجَلُ الله لِعَجَلَةِ أَحَدُ، مَا شَاءَ الله لَا مَا شَاءَ النَّاسُ، یرِیدُ النَّاسِ أَمْراً وَ یرِیدُ الله أَمْراً، مَا شَاءَ الله کانَ وَ لَوْ کرِهَ النَّاسِ، لا مُبَاعِدُ لَمَّا قَرَّبَ الله، وَ لَا مُقَرَّبُ لِمَا بَاعَدَ الله، لَا یکونُ شَی‌ءُ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ الله.

It has been narrated in Al-Durr al-Manthur that Ibn Mardawayh narrated from Ibn Shahab, who narrates from Salim, who narrates from Abu Hurayrah who said that: “The Prophet would recite in his sermons: ‘That which is going to come is near, that which has to come is not far away, and Allah does not hurry for anyone. That which Allah desires (will happen), not that which human beings want to happen. Men may want a certain thing to happen, whereas Allah desires something else. That which the Almighty desires will happen even though men may be averse to it. There is no one who can postpone that which the All-Powerful has brought near. Neither is there anyone who can bring near that which Allah has delayed. Nothing happens except by Allah’s permission.”’ [17]


  1. Fadl ibn Hasan Tabarsi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 10 (Tehran: Nasir Khusrow Publications, 1993 C.E.), Page 206; Mahmud Zamakhshari, Al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Volume 4 (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1987 C.E.), Page 665; Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 20 (Qum: Daftar-i Intisharat-i Islami Jamiah-yi Mudarrisin-i Hawzah-yi Ilmiyyah-yi Qum, 1996 C.E.), Page 130
  2. Tabatabai, Ibid
  3. Ismail ibn Umar Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Volume 8 (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Muhammad Ali Baydoun Publications, 1998 C.E.), Page 292; Tabatabai, Ibid; Tabarsi, Ibid
  4. Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Volume 8, Page 293
  5. Tabarsi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 10, Page 220
  6. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 16, Page 153
  7. Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Volume 4, Page 676
  8. Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Volume 4, Page 676
  9. Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Volume 8, Page 293
  10. Ibid., Page 294
  11. Ibid., Page 295
  12. Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil, Volume 4, Page 670
  13. Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Volume 8, Page 299
  14. Tabarsi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 10, Page 206
  15. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 16, Page 146
  16. Tabarsi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 10, Page 216
  17. Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Volume 16, Page 157