English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 21: Al-Anbiya — The Prophets (Revealed at Makkah: 7 sections, 112 verses)

Section 5 (Verses 21:51–21:75): Abraham is Delivered


وَ لَقَدۡ اٰتَیۡنَاۤ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ رُشۡدَہٗ مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ کُنَّا بِہٖ عٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚ۵۱﴾

21:51 And certainly We gave Abraham his rectitude before, and We knew him well.

اِذۡ قَالَ لِاَبِیۡہِ وَ قَوۡمِہٖ مَا ہٰذِہِ التَّمَاثِیۡلُ الَّتِیۡۤ اَنۡتُمۡ لَہَا عٰکِفُوۡنَ ﴿۵۲﴾

21:52 When he said to his sire and his people: What are these images to whose worship you are devoted?

قَالُوۡا وَجَدۡنَاۤ اٰبَآءَنَا لَہَا عٰبِدِیۡنَ ﴿۵۳﴾

21:53 They said: We found our fathers worshipping them.

قَالَ لَقَدۡ کُنۡتُمۡ اَنۡتُمۡ وَ اٰبَآؤُکُمۡ فِیۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِیۡنٍ ﴿۵۴﴾

21:54 He said: Certainly you have been, you and your fathers, in manifest error.

قَالُوۡۤا اَجِئۡتَنَا بِالۡحَقِّ اَمۡ اَنۡتَ مِنَ اللّٰعِبِیۡنَ ﴿۵۵﴾

21:55 They said: Have you brought us the truth, or are you a jester?

قَالَ بَلۡ رَّبُّکُمۡ رَبُّ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ الَّذِیۡ فَطَرَہُنَّ ۫ۖ وَ اَنَا عَلٰی ذٰلِکُمۡ مِّنَ الشّٰہِدِیۡنَ ﴿۵۶﴾

21:56 He said: Indeed, your Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Who created them; and I am one of the bearers of witness to this.

وَ تَاللّٰہِ لَاَکِیۡدَنَّ اَصۡنَامَکُمۡ بَعۡدَ اَنۡ تُوَلُّوۡا مُدۡبِرِیۡنَ ﴿۵۷﴾

21:57 And, by Allah! I will certainly plan against your idols after you go away, turning your backs.

فَجَعَلَہُمۡ جُذٰذًا اِلَّا کَبِیۡرًا لَّہُمۡ لَعَلَّہُمۡ اِلَیۡہِ یَرۡجِعُوۡنَ ﴿۵۸﴾

21:58 So he broke them into pieces, except the chief of them, that perhaps they might return to it.1

قَالُوۡا مَنۡ فَعَلَ ہٰذَا بِاٰلِہَتِنَاۤ اِنَّہٗ لَمِنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۵۹﴾

21:59 They said: Who has done this to our gods? Surely he is one of the wrongdoers.

قَالُوۡا سَمِعۡنَا فَتًی یَّذۡکُرُہُمۡ یُقَالُ لَہٗۤ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ ﴿ؕ۶۰﴾

21:60 (Some) said: We heard a youth, who is called Abraham, speak of them.

قَالُوۡا فَاۡتُوۡا بِہٖ عَلٰۤی اَعۡیُنِ النَّاسِ لَعَلَّہُمۡ یَشۡہَدُوۡنَ ﴿۶۱﴾

21:61 They said: Then bring him before the people’s eyes, perhaps they may bear witness.

قَالُوۡۤا ءَاَنۡتَ فَعَلۡتَ ہٰذَا بِاٰلِہَتِنَا یٰۤـاِبۡرٰہِیۡمُ ﴿ؕ۶۲﴾

21:62 They said: Have you done this to our gods, Abraham?

قَالَ بَلۡ فَعَلَہٗ ٭ۖ کَبِیۡرُہُمۡ ہٰذَا فَسۡـَٔلُوۡہُمۡ اِنۡ کَانُوۡا یَنۡطِقُوۡنَ ﴿۶۳﴾

21:63 He said: Surely (someone) has done it. The chief of them is this;2 so ask them, if they can speak.

فَرَجَعُوۡۤا اِلٰۤی اَنۡفُسِہِمۡ فَقَالُوۡۤا اِنَّکُمۡ اَنۡتُمُ الظّٰلِمُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۶۴﴾

21:64 Then they turned to themselves and said: Surely you yourselves are wrongdoers;

ثُمَّ نُکِسُوۡا عَلٰی رُءُوۡسِہِمۡ ۚ لَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتَ مَا ہٰۤؤُلَآءِ یَنۡطِقُوۡنَ ﴿۶۵﴾

21:65 then they were made to hang down their heads:3 You know indeed that they do not speak.

قَالَ اَفَتَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مَا لَا یَنۡفَعُکُمۡ شَیۡئًا وَّ لَا یَضُرُّکُمۡ ﴿ؕ۶۶﴾

21:66 He said: Do you then serve besides Allah what does you no good, nor harms you?

اُفٍّ لَّکُمۡ وَ لِمَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ اَفَلَا تَعۡقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۶۷﴾

21:67 Enough of you and what you serve besides Allah! Have you no sense?

قَالُوۡا حَرِّقُوۡہُ وَ انۡصُرُوۡۤا اٰلِہَتَکُمۡ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ فٰعِلِیۡنَ ﴿۶۸﴾

21:68 They said: Burn him, and help your gods, if you are going to do (anything).

قُلۡنَا یٰنَارُ کُوۡنِیۡ بَرۡدًا وَّ سَلٰمًا عَلٰۤی اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ ﴿ۙ۶۹﴾

21:69 We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham:4

وَ اَرَادُوۡا بِہٖ کَیۡدًا فَجَعَلۡنٰہُمُ الۡاَخۡسَرِیۡنَ ﴿ۚ۷۰﴾

21:70 And they intended a plan against him, but We made them the greater losers.

وَ نَجَّیۡنٰہُ وَ لُوۡطًا اِلَی الۡاَرۡضِ الَّتِیۡ بٰرَکۡنَا فِیۡہَا لِلۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۷۱﴾

21:71 And We delivered him and Lot (directing them) to the land which We had blessed for the nations.

وَ وَہَبۡنَا لَہٗۤ اِسۡحٰقَ ؕ وَ یَعۡقُوۡبَ نَافِلَۃً ؕ وَ کُلًّا جَعَلۡنَا صٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۷۲﴾

21:72 And We gave him Isaac; and Jacob, a son’s son. And We made (them) all good.

وَ جَعَلۡنٰہُمۡ اَئِمَّۃً یَّہۡدُوۡنَ بِاَمۡرِنَا وَ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡہِمۡ فِعۡلَ الۡخَیۡرٰتِ وَ اِقَامَ الصَّلٰوۃِ وَ اِیۡتَآءَ الزَّکٰوۃِ ۚ وَ کَانُوۡا لَنَا عٰبِدِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۙ۷۳﴾

21:73 And We made them leaders who guided (people) by Our command, and We revealed to them the doing of good and the keeping up of prayer and the giving of charity, and Us (alone) they served;

وَ لُوۡطًا اٰتَیۡنٰہُ حُکۡمًا وَّ عِلۡمًا وَّ نَجَّیۡنٰہُ مِنَ الۡقَرۡیَۃِ الَّتِیۡ کَانَتۡ تَّعۡمَلُ الۡخَبٰٓئِثَ ؕ اِنَّہُمۡ کَانُوۡا قَوۡمَ سَوۡءٍ فٰسِقِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۷۴﴾

21:74 and to Lot We gave wisdom and knowledge, and We delivered him from the town which committed wicked deeds. Surely they were an evil people, transgressors;

وَ اَدۡخَلۡنٰہُ فِیۡ رَحۡمَتِنَا ؕ اِنَّہٗ مِنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿٪۷۵﴾

21:75 and We admitted him to Our mercy; surely he was from among the righteous.


  1. The story of Abraham’s breaking the idols is related in Jewish Rabbi­nical literature.
  2. These words do not mean “No, he has done it, this chief of them”. There is a pause after the words “has done it” and the statement “the chief of them is this” is an independent statement. Thus the first words mean some doer has done it. The particle bal occurring before these words often denotes and or surely. The idols were taken as gods yet they were not able to help themselves. They were shattered to pieces, yet they could do no harm to their shatterer. Nor could they even tell their votaries who was responsible for this. It should be further noted that Abraham never tried to conceal what he had done. In fact, before brea­king the idols he had warned the people that he would plan against their idols; see v. 57. The object of sparing the chief idol was, as made clear in v. 58, that perhaps they might return to it. The chief was yet safe, they should have argued within themselves, why not pray to him to find out who broke the others. This is hinted at in v. 64, where they are made to confess their own wrongdoing in wor­shipping things which could do them no good or harm (v. 66).
  3. They were made to hang down their heads on account of shame, for their deities proved so helpless as to be unable to name even the person who did them injury.
  4. The fire was turned into coolness and peace for Abraham. The Quran does not state anywhere that Abraham was actually cast into a fire. His opponents had no doubt decided to burn him, as stated here, or to kill him or burn him (29:24). But here in v. 70 as well as in 37:98, we are told in clear words that they intended a plan against him, but We made them the greater losers (v. 70), or We brought them low (37:98). This shows that their plan was ineffective. According to 29:24, Allah delivered him from the fire, before being thrown into or after being thrown into it, it does not say. V. 71 states that the delivery was brought about by means of a journey to another land. It was thus a flight to another place like the Holy Prophet’s Flight to Madinah, and in the history of Abraham there is a deeper reference to the history of the Prophet himself.