Surah Al-Shams

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The Sun


Name of Chapter and Reason for its Name

The chapter is called Surah al-Shams (the Sun) and the name is taken from the very first verse of the chapter, where the sun and the large area that it shines upon – meaning the earth, are sworn by. [1]

Chapter Number

Surah al-Shams is the 91st chapter of the Holy Quran.

Number of Verses

This chapter contains 15 verses. [2] [3] [4]

Place of Revelation

Quranic exegetists consider this chapter to be a Makki one. [5] [6] [7]


Important Concepts in this Chapter

Verses 1-10

Emphasize on the importance of self-purification and reform after swearing 11 oaths. The initial verses of this chapter, after swearing upon 11 things, highlight the importance of purifying one’s soul. A human being, through the guidance of Allah is able to separate and differentiate between piety and immorality, between a righteous action and an indecent one, and should one wish to be victorious, must first purify one’s own soul. A person should cultivate one’s soul with a righteous nurturing and keep it far from detested acts, or else one will be deprived of victory and eternal bliss. [7]

Verses 11-15

A reference to the story of the nation of Thamood. The latter verses of this chapter discuss the story of Thamood. The nation of Thamood rejected Prophet Saleh (who was appointed for them), and killed the camel that they were ordered to protect. As a result of this crime, they were punished and made to face great difficulties and complete destruction. [8]

Discussions on this Chapter

According to the Sunni Traditions

Benefits of Reciting this Surah

روي عن النبي صلي الله عليه و آله سلم أنه قال: «من قرأ هذه السورة (الشمس) فکأنما تصدق علي من طلعت عليه الشمس و القمر

Reported from the Messenger of Allah, ‘One who recites the chapter of the Sun, is like a person who has given charity to all the things upon which the sun and the moon shine.’ [8]

According to the Shia Traditions

Verse 8: “And inspired it with [discernment between] its virtues and vices.” فَأَلۡهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقۡوَىٰهَا ٨ رَوَی زُرَارَة وَ حُمْرَان وَ مُحَمَّد بْن مُسْلِمٍ عن ابى جعفر و ابى عبد الله عليهما السلام في قوله: «فَأَلْهَمَها فُجُورَها وَ تَقْواها» قال: بين لها ما تأتى و ما تترك و في قوله: قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكَّاها قال: قد أفلح من أطاع وَ قَدْ خابَ مَنْ دَسَّاها قال:قد خاب من عصى

Zurarah, Humraan, and Muhammad ibn Muslim reported from Abu Jafar and Abu Abdillah regarding the words of Allah ‘And inspired it with [discernment between] its virtues and vices’ that they (the Imams) said: “It (the verse) states what they should do and what they should abandon.” He continued, speaking about the statements of Allah that ‘Surely victorious is the person who purifies their soul’ saying that it means: “Surely victorious is the person who obeys (Allah)” and that the verse: ‘Surely a failure is the person who corrupts it’ means: “Surely a failure is the person who sins.” [9]

Verse 9: “One who purifies it is felicitous.”

قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ مَن زَكَّىٰهَا ٩ أَخْرَجَ ابْنُ أَبِی حَاتِمٍ وَ أَبُو الشَّیخِ وَ ابْن مَرْدَوَیهِ وَ الدَّیلَمِی عَنْ جُوَیبِرٍ عَنِ الضَّحَّاک عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ: سَمِعْتُ رسول‌الله ص یقُولُ: «قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَکاها» الْآیةَ أفلحت نَفْس زَکاها الله - وَ خَابَتْ نَفْس خیبها الله مِنْ کلِّ خَیرٍ

Ibn Abu Haatim, Abu al-Shaykh, Ibn Mardawayh and al-Daylami have reported from their chains through Jubayr, who reports from al-Dhahhaak, that Ibn Abbas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah saying, ‘Surely victorious is the person who purifies their soul.’ Thereafter, ‘Victorious is the soul that Allah purifies and the soul that Allah deprives of all good has indeed failed.’” [9]


  1. Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran (1997), Volume 20, Page 337
  2. Ismail ibn Umar Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah (1998), Volume 8, Page 398
  3. Fadhl ibn Hasan Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran (1995), Volume 10, Page 367
  4. Mahmud Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf an Haqaiq Ghawamid al-Tanzil (1986), Volume 4, Page 758
  5. Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 367
  6. Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 398
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tabatabai, Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 337
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ibn Kathir Damishqi, Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, Page 761
  9. 9.0 9.1 Tabrisi, Majma al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Quran, Page 370