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 6 (Verses 21:76–21:93): Allah Always Delivers Prophets


وَ نُوۡحًا اِذۡ نَادٰی مِنۡ قَبۡلُ فَاسۡتَجَبۡنَا لَہٗ فَنَجَّیۡنٰہُ وَ اَہۡلَہٗ مِنَ الۡکَرۡبِ الۡعَظِیۡمِ ﴿ۚ۷۶﴾

21:76 And Noah, when he cried before (this), so We answered him, and delivered him and his people from the great calamity.

وَ نَصَرۡنٰہُ مِنَ الۡقَوۡمِ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِنَا ؕ اِنَّہُمۡ کَانُوۡا قَوۡمَ سَوۡءٍ فَاَغۡرَقۡنٰہُمۡ اَجۡمَعِیۡنَ ﴿۷۷﴾

21:77 And We helped him against the people who rejected Our messages. Surely they were an evil people, so We drowned them all.

وَ دَاوٗدَ وَ سُلَیۡمٰنَ اِذۡ یَحۡکُمٰنِ فِی الۡحَرۡثِ اِذۡ نَفَشَتۡ فِیۡہِ غَنَمُ الۡقَوۡمِ ۚ وَ کُنَّا لِحُکۡمِہِمۡ شٰہِدِیۡنَ ﴿٭ۙ۷۸﴾

21:78 And David and Solomon, when they gave judgment concerning the field, when the people’s sheep strayed into it by night, and We were bearers of witness to their judgment.

فَفَہَّمۡنٰہَا سُلَیۡمٰنَ ۚ وَ کُلًّا اٰتَیۡنَا حُکۡمًا وَّ عِلۡمًا ۫ وَّ سَخَّرۡنَا مَعَ دَاوٗدَ الۡجِبَالَ یُسَبِّحۡنَ وَ الطَّیۡرَ ؕ وَ کُنَّا فٰعِلِیۡنَ ﴿۷۹﴾

21:79 So We made Solomon to understand it. And to each (of them) We gave wisdom and knowledge. And We made the mountains, declaring (Our) glory, and the birds, subservient to David.1 And We were the Doers.

وَ عَلَّمۡنٰہُ صَنۡعَۃَ لَبُوۡسٍ لَّکُمۡ لِتُحۡصِنَکُمۡ مِّنۡۢ بَاۡسِکُمۡ ۚ فَہَلۡ اَنۡتُمۡ شٰکِرُوۡنَ ﴿۸۰﴾

21:80 And We taught him the making of coats of mail for you, to protect you in your wars; will you then be grateful?

وَ لِسُلَیۡمٰنَ الرِّیۡحَ عَاصِفَۃً تَجۡرِیۡ بِاَمۡرِہٖۤ اِلَی الۡاَرۡضِ الَّتِیۡ بٰرَکۡنَا فِیۡہَا ؕ وَ کُنَّا بِکُلِّ شَیۡءٍ عٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿۸۱﴾

21:81 And to Solomon (We subdued) the wind blowing violent, pursuing its course by His command to the land which We had blessed, and We are ever Knower of all things.2

وَ مِنَ الشَّیٰطِیۡنِ مَنۡ یَّغُوۡصُوۡنَ لَہٗ وَ یَعۡمَلُوۡنَ عَمَلًا دُوۡنَ ذٰلِکَ ۚ وَ کُنَّا لَہُمۡ حٰفِظِیۡنَ ﴿ۙ۸۲﴾

21:82 And of the devils there were those who dived for him and did other work besides that, and We kept guard over them;3

وَ اَیُّوۡبَ اِذۡ نَادٰی رَبَّہٗۤ اَنِّیۡ مَسَّنِیَ الضُّرُّ وَ اَنۡتَ اَرۡحَمُ الرّٰحِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۖ۸۳﴾

21:83 and Job, when he cried to his Lord: Distress has afflicted me, and You are the most Merciful of those who show mercy!

فَاسۡتَجَبۡنَا لَہٗ فَکَشَفۡنَا مَا بِہٖ مِنۡ ضُرٍّ وَّ اٰتَیۡنٰہُ اَہۡلَہٗ وَ مِثۡلَہُمۡ مَّعَہُمۡ رَحۡمَۃً مِّنۡ عِنۡدِنَا وَ ذِکۡرٰی لِلۡعٰبِدِیۡنَ ﴿۸۴﴾

21:84 So We responded to him and removed the distress he had, and We gave him (back) his people and more like them with them, a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers.4

وَ اِسۡمٰعِیۡلَ وَ اِدۡرِیۡسَ وَ ذَاالۡکِفۡلِ ؕ کُلٌّ مِّنَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۖ۸۵﴾

21:85 And Ishmael and Idrīs and Dhu-l-Kifl;5 all were from among the patient ones;

وَ اَدۡخَلۡنٰہُمۡ فِیۡ رَحۡمَتِنَا ؕ اِنَّہُمۡ مِّنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۸۶﴾

21:86 and We admitted them to Our mercy; surely they were from among the good ones.

وَ ذَاالنُّوۡنِ اِذۡ ذَّہَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ اَنۡ لَّنۡ نَّقۡدِرَ عَلَیۡہِ فَنَادٰی فِی الظُّلُمٰتِ اَنۡ لَّاۤ اِلٰہَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡتَ سُبۡحٰنَکَ ٭ۖ اِنِّیۡ کُنۡتُ مِنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۖ۸۷﴾

21:87 And Dhu-l-Nūn,6 when he went away in anger,7 and he thought that We would not constrain him,8 so he called out among afflictions:9 There is no God but You, glory be to You! Surely I am a sufferer of loss.10

فَاسۡتَجَبۡنَا لَہٗ ۙ وَ نَجَّیۡنٰہُ مِنَ الۡغَمِّ ؕ وَ کَذٰلِکَ نُــۨۡجِی الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۸۸﴾

21:88 So We responded to him and delivered him from grief. And thus do We deliver the believers.

وَ زَکَرِیَّاۤ اِذۡ نَادٰی رَبَّہٗ رَبِّ لَا تَذَرۡنِیۡ فَرۡدًا وَّ اَنۡتَ خَیۡرُ الۡوٰرِثِیۡنَ ﴿ۚۖ۸۹﴾

21:89 And Zacharias, when he cried to his Lord: My Lord, do not leave me alone and You are the Best of inheritors!11

فَاسۡتَجَبۡنَا لَہٗ ۫ وَ وَہَبۡنَا لَہٗ یَحۡیٰی وَ اَصۡلَحۡنَا لَہٗ زَوۡجَہٗ ؕاِنَّہُمۡ کَانُوۡا یُسٰرِعُوۡنَ فِی الۡخَیۡرٰتِ وَ یَدۡعُوۡنَنَا رَغَبًا وَّ رَہَبًا ؕوَ کَانُوۡا لَنَا خٰشِعِیۡنَ ﴿۹۰﴾

21:90 So We responded to him and gave him John and made his wife fit for him.12 Surely they used to hasten in (doing) good deeds and called upon Us, hoping and fearing; and they were humble before Us.

وَ الَّتِیۡۤ اَحۡصَنَتۡ فَرۡجَہَا فَنَفَخۡنَا فِیۡہَا مِنۡ رُّوۡحِنَا وَ جَعَلۡنٰہَا وَ ابۡنَہَاۤ اٰیَۃً لِّلۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ﴿۹۱﴾

21:91 And she who guarded her chastity,13 so We breathed into her of Our inspiration, and made her and her son a sign for the nations.

اِنَّ ہٰذِہٖۤ اُمَّتُکُمۡ اُمَّۃً وَّاحِدَۃً ۫ۖ وَّ اَنَا رَبُّکُمۡ فَاعۡبُدُوۡنِ ﴿۹۲﴾

21:92 Surely this your community is a single community, and I am your Lord, so serve Me.14

وَ تَقَطَّعُوۡۤا اَمۡرَہُمۡ بَیۡنَہُمۡ ؕ کُلٌّ اِلَیۡنَا رٰجِعُوۡنَ ﴿٪۹۳﴾

21:93 And they split apart their unity: to Us will all return.


  1. Elsewhere it is stated that everything that exists in the heavens or the earth is made subservient to man (45:13); and on various occasions it is mentioned that the rivers, the sea, the sun and the moon, night and day, etc., are made subservient to man (16:12, 16:14, 13:2, etc.). This explains the meaning of making mountains and birds subservient to David. A thing is said to be made subser­vient to a man when he can use it to his advantage. Note further that every­thing in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allah (17:44). But see 34:10, where a similar statement occurs and may refer to the conquests of David.
  2. Solomon’s fleet did him an important service, and this is what is meant by the wind being made subservient to Solomon. Also compare 14:32: “And He has made the ships subservient to you, to run their course in the sea by His command”.
  3. Elsewhere we have: “And the devils, every builder and diver, and others fettered in chains” (38:37–38). Solomon employed foreigners, whom he had subdued, to do the work of divers and builders. The word shaiṭān (or devil) signifies one who is excessively proud, rebellious or audacious. See further 38:38.
  4. Job is again mentioned after Solomon in greater detail in 38:41–44. There also he is spoken of as being given his people (ahl) and more like them with them. There, however, we have clear indications that the distress spoken of here relates to some journey which he undertook in connection with his mission. As a result of this journey he lost, or was separated from, his people. It seems that he had to flee to some place of safety, and he ultimately found not only his own people but others like them, i.e., he had other believers in him in his place of refuge. The story of Job as given in the Quran is really a prophetical statement relating to the Prophet’s own Flight from Makkah to Madinah, where he met with not only his Makkan followers but also believers in Madinah in about the same number.
  5. The commentators differ in identifying Dhu-l-Kifl with one of the Biblical prophets, Zacharias, Elias, or Joshua. A more sound suggestion is that he is Ezekiel. This prophet is mentioned only once again, as here without any reference to his history, in 38:48. (Editor’s Note: Dhu-l-Kifl may stand for Dhu-l-Kipl, as the letter p is represented by f in Arabic, there being no p in the Arabic alphabet. Dhu-l-Kipl would mean he who belongs to Kapila, this being the name of the town in ancient India to which Buddha belonged. According to the clear teachings of the Quran, prophets and messengers of God were sent to every nation: “And there is not a people but a warner has gone among them” — 35:24; see also 10:47, 4:164 and 40:78. Buddha’s life and teachings, and his great following, lead us to infer that he was a messenger of God in Quranic terms.)
  6. Dhu-l-Nūn is another name for Jonah, the Arabic equivalent of the latter being Yūnus, by which name the prophet is mentioned in 6:86, 10:98 and 37:139. Nūn means a big fish, and Dhu-l-Nūn therefore means lord of the fish. In a very early revelation, Jonah is spoken of as the companion of the fish (68:48). Both these titles seem to be taken from the incident of the fish; see 37:142.
  7. Evidently what is meant is that he was angry with his people and left them for another place. A prophet’s being angry with God is simply unimagi­nable. Moreover he is spoken of here as going away, while no man could think of going away from the presence of the Omnipresent. He was wroth with his people because of their stubbornness. See also 37:140.
  8. Finding his people stubborn, he went away from them and was wroth with them and thought, or rather knew (ẓanna), that some way would be opened for him to bring people to guidance somewhere. These words may also mean: he thought We would not decree against him.
  9. Literally, darkness. Difficulty is compared to darkness because of the inability of a person to find his way when in difficulty, as when in darkness.
  10. The word ẓulm may mean anything from the slightest falling off from one’s duty to the greatest transgression. It is used sometimes in a good sense when a man imposes upon himself a heavy duty to please God. Jonah is here spoken of as being of the ẓālimīn (one of the sufferers of loss) in the sense of making himself suffer a loss by going away from his original place, or of having failed in doing justice to the message with which he was entrusted.
  11. That is, One Who will remain after all have perished.
  12. By fitness is meant fitness to bear a child, because she was thought to be barren.
  13. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is meant here. Nothing is said about immaculate conception here. The guarding of chastity does not preclude the law­ful union of husband and wife.
  14. The basic principle of all religions taught by the prophets has been one and the same in all ages and all countries, that Allah is the Lord of all and He alone must be served. Therefore all prophets are here declared to be one comm­unity; they all led people to virtue through service to God. But, as the next verse shows, their followers broke off this unity.