Surah Insan in Arabic with English Transliteration and Translation

76. Al-Insan (Man) – الإنسان

Al-Insan is the 76th surah (chapter) of Al-Qur’an. It consists of 31 ayat (verses) that were revealed in Mecca and Medina.


THE OPINIONS of the earliest commentators are divided as to whether this surah—also called Ad-Dahr (“Time” or “Endless Time”) after a word occurring in the first verse—belongs to the Mecca or the Medina period. Many authorities of the second generation—among them Mujahid, Qatadah, Al-Hasan al-Basri and ‘Ikrimah (all of them quoted by Baghawi)—hold the view that it was revealed at Medina.

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Surah Al-Insan Ayat 1

هَلْ أَتَىٰ عَلَى الْإِنْسَانِ حِينٌ مِنَ الدَّهْرِ لَمْ يَكُنْ شَيْئًا مَذْكُورًا

Hal ataa ‘alal insaani heenum minad dahri lam yakun shai’am mazkooraa

1. HAS THERE [not] been an endless span of time1 before man [appeared—a time] when he was not yet a thing to be thought of?2


1 Implying, according to all the classical commentators, “there has indeed been an immensely long [or
“endless”] span of time”—the interrogative particle hal having here the positive meaning of qad. However, this meaning can be brought out equally well by interpolating the word “not”.

2 Lit., “a thing mentioned” or “mentionable”—i.e., non-existent even as a hypothetical concept. The purport of this statement is a refutation of the blasphemous “anthropocentric” world-view, which postulates man as he exists—and not any Supreme Being—as the centre and ultimate reality of all life.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 2

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا

Innaa khalaqnal insaana min nutfatin amshaajin nabta leehi faja’alnaahu samee’am baseeraa

2. Verily, it is We who have created man out of a drop of sperm intermingled,3 so that We might try him [in his later life]: and therefore We made him a being endowed with hearing and sight.


3 Sc., “with the female ovum”; cf. Surah At-Tariq [86]: 6-7.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 3

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا

Innaa hadainaahus sabeela immaa shaakiranw wa immaa kafoora

3. Verily, We have shown him the way:4 [and it rests with him to prove himself] either grateful or ungrateful.


4 I.e., God has not only endowed man with “hearing and sight”, i.e., with reason and the instinctive ability to discern between right and wrong, good and evil (cf. Al-Balad [90]: 10), but He also actively guides him by means of the revelation bestowed on the prophets.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 4

إِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَلَاسِلَ وَأَغْلَالًا وَسَعِيرًا

Innaaa a’tadnaa lilkaa fireena salaasila wa aghlaalanw wa sa’eeraa

4. [Now,] behold, for those who deny the truth,5 We have readied chains and shackles, and a blazing flame6


5 In this context, the “denial of the truth” (kufr) apparently relates to man’s deliberate suppression of his inborn cognition of God’s existence (cf. Al-A’raf [7]: 172 and the corresponding note 139) as well as to his disregard of his own instinctive perceptions of good and evil.

6 Sc., “of despair”. For the metaphor of “shackles and chains”—i.e., the consequence of the sinners’ blind surrender to their own passions and to false values, and the resulting enslavement of their spirit—see Surah Saba’ [34], note 44; also Razi’s elaborate comments (quoted in note 7 on Al-Muzzammil [73]: 12-13) on this allegory of suffering in the hereafter.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 5

إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ يَشْرَبُونَ مِنْ كَأْسٍ كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا كَافُورًا

Innal abraara yashra boona min kaasin kaana mizaa juhaa kaafooraa

5. [whereas,] behold, the truly virtuous shall drink from a cup flavoured with the calyx of sweet-smelling flowers:7


7 The Lisan al-Arab gives “the calyx (kimm) of the grape before its flowering” as the primary significance
of kafur; according to other lexicologists (e.g” Taj al-‘Arus), it denotes “the calyx of any flower”; Jawhari applies it to the “spathe of a palm tree”, Hence, this—and not “camphor”—is evidently the meaning of kafur in the above context: an allusion to the sweet, extremely delicate fragrance of the symbolic “drink” ‘of divine knowledge (cf. Surah Al-Mutaffifin [83]: 25-28 and the corresponding notes 8 and 9).


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 6

عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا عِبَادُ اللَّهِ يُفَجِّرُونَهَا تَفْجِيرًا

‘Aynany yashrabu bihaa ‘ibaadul laahi yufajjiroonahaa tafjeeraa

6. a source [of bliss] whereof God’s servants shall drink, seeing it flow in a flow abundant.8


8 Lit” “making [or “letting”] it flow…”, etc.: i.e., having it always at their disposal.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 7

يُوفُونَ بِالنَّذْرِ وَيَخَافُونَ يَوْمًا كَانَ شَرُّهُ مُسْتَطِيرًا

Yoofoona binnazri wa yakhaafoona yawman kaana sharruhoo mustateeraa

7. [The truly virtuous are] they [who] fulfil their vows,9 and stand in awe of a Day the woe of which is bound to spread far and wide,


9 I.e., the spiritual and social obligations arising from their faith.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 8

وَيُطْعِمُونَ الطَّعَامَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ مِسْكِينًا وَيَتِيمًا وَأَسِيرًا

Wa yut”imoonat ta’aama ‘alaa hubbihee miskeenanw wa yateemanw wa aseeraa

8. and who give food—however great be their own want of it10—unto the needy, and the orphan, and the captive,11


10 Or, as in Al-Baqarah [2]: 177, “however much they themselves may cherish [i.e., “need”] it”; cf. also Al-Balad [90]: 14-16. It is to be noted that in this context the concept of “giving food” comprises every kind of help and care, both material and moral.

11 The term asir denotes anyone who is a “captive” either literally (e.g. a prisoner) or figuratively, i.e., a captive of circumstances which render him helpless; thus, the Prophet said, “Thy debtor is thy captive; be, therefore, truly kind to thy captive” (Zamakhshari, Razi, et al.). The injunction of kindness towards all who are in need of help—and therefore “captive” in one sense or another—applies to believers and non-believers alike (Tabari, Zamakhshari), and apparently also to animals dependent on man.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 9

إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنْكُمْ جَزَاءً وَلَا شُكُورًا

Innaamaa nut’imukum li wajhil laahi laa nureedu minkum jazaaa’anw wa laa shukooraa

9. [saying, in their hearts,] “We feed you for the sake of God alone: we desire no recompense from you, nor thanks:


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 10

إِنَّا نَخَافُ مِنْ رَبِّنَا يَوْمًا عَبُوسًا قَمْطَرِيرًا

Innaa nakhaafu mir Rabbinna Yawman ‘aboosan qamtareeraa

10. behold, we stand in awe of our Sustainer’s judgment12 on a distressful, fateful Day!”


12 Lit” “we fear our Sustainer”.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 11

فَوَقَاهُمُ اللَّهُ شَرَّ ذَٰلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَلَقَّاهُمْ نَضْرَةً وَسُرُورًا

Fa waqaahumul laahu sharra zaalikal yawmi wa laqqaahum nadratanw wa surooraa

11. And so, God will preserve them from the woes of that Day, and will bestow on them brightness and joy,


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 12

وَجَزَاهُمْ بِمَا صَبَرُوا جَنَّةً وَحَرِيرًا

Wa jazaahum bimaa sabaroo janatanw wa hareeraa

12. and will reward them for all their patience in adversity with a garden [of bliss] and with [garments of] silk.13


13 For this allegory, see first half of note 41 on Surah Al-Kahfi [18}: 31.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 13

مُتَّكِئِينَ فِيهَا عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ ۖ لَا يَرَوْنَ فِيهَا شَمْسًا وَلَا زَمْهَرِيرًا

Muttaki’eena feeha ‘alal araaa ‘iki laa yarawna feehaa shamsanw wa laa zamhareeraa

13. In that [garden] they will on couches recline, and will know therein neither [burning] sun nor cold severe,


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 14

وَدَانِيَةً عَلَيْهِمْ ظِلَالُهَا وَذُلِّلَتْ قُطُوفُهَا تَذْلِيلًا

Wa daaniyatan ‘alaihim zilaaluhaa wa zullilat qutoofu haa tazleela

14. since its [blissful] shades will come down low over them,14 and low will hang down its clusters of fruit, most easy to reach.15


14 Regarding the allegorical implication of the term “shades” (zilal), see note 74 on An-Nisa’ [4]: 57. It is to be noted that the existence of shade presupposes, the existence of light (Jawhari), which latter is one of the characteristics implicit in the concept of “paradise”.

15 Lit., “in all humility”.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 15

وَيُطَافُ عَلَيْهِمْ بِآنِيَةٍ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ كَانَتْ قَوَارِيرَا

Wa yutaafu ‘alaihim bi aaniyatim min fiddatinw wa akwaabin kaanat qawaareeraa

15. And they will be waited upon with vessels of silver and goblets that will [seem to] be crystal—


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 16

قَوَارِيرَ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ قَدَّرُوهَا تَقْدِيرًا

Qawaareera min fiddatin qaddaroohaa taqdeeraa

16. crystal-like, [but] of silver—the measure whereof they alone will determine.16


16 I.e., partaking of as much as they may desire.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 17

وَيُسْقَوْنَ فِيهَا كَأْسًا كَانَ مِزَاجُهَا زَنْجَبِيلًا

Wa yuskawna feehaa kaasan kaana mizaajuhaa zanjabeelaa

17. And in that [paradise] they will be given to drink of a cup flavoured with ginger,


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 18

عَيْنًا فِيهَا تُسَمَّىٰ سَلْسَبِيلًا

‘Aynan feeha tusammaa salsabeelaa

18. [derived from] a source [to be found] therein, whose name is “Seek Thy Way”.17


17 This is how Ali ibn Abi Talib—as quoted by Zamakhshari and Razi—explains the (obviously compound) word salsabilan, dividing it into its two components, sal sabilan (“ask [or “seek”] the way”): namely, “seek thy way to paradise by means of doing righteous deeds”. Although Zamakhshari does not quite agree with this interpretation, it is, in my opinion, very convincing inasmuch as it contains an allusion to the highly allegorical character of the concept of “paradise” as a spiritual consequence of one’s positive endeavours in this world, That its delights are not of a material nature is also evident from their varying descriptions—i.e., “a cup flavoured with ginger” in verse 17, and “flavoured with the calyx of sweet-smelling flowers” in verse 5; or “they will be waited upon with trays and goblets of gold” in Az-Zukhruf [43]: 71, and “vessels of silver and goblets that will [seem to] be crystal crystal-like, [but] of silver”, in verses 15-16 of this surah; and so forth.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 19

وَيَطُوفُ عَلَيْهِمْ وِلْدَانٌ مُخَلَّدُونَ إِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ حَسِبْتَهُمْ لُؤْلُؤًا مَنْثُورًا

Wa yatoofu ‘alaihim wildaanum mukhalladoona izaa ra aytahum hasibtahum lu’lu ‘am mansoora

19. And immortal youths will wait upon them:18 when thou seest them, thou wouldst deem them to be scattered pearls;


18 See note 6 on Al-Waqi’ah [56]: 17-18.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 20

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ ثَمَّ رَأَيْتَ نَعِيمًا وَمُلْكًا كَبِيرًا

Wa izaa ra ayta samma ra ayta na’eemanw wa mulkan kabeera

20. and when thou seest [anything that is] there thou wilt see [only] bliss and a realm transcendent.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 21

عَالِيَهُمْ ثِيَابُ سُنْدُسٍ خُضْرٌ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٌ ۖ وَحُلُّوا أَسَاوِرَ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ وَسَقَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ شَرَابًا طَهُورًا

‘Aaliyahum siyaabu sundusin khudrunw wa istabraq, wa hullooo asaawira min fiddatinw wa saqaahum Rabbuhum sharaaban tahooraa

21. Upon those [blest] will be garments of green silk and brocade; and they will be adorned with bracelets of silver.19 And their Sustainer will give them to drink of a drink most pure.20


19 See Al-Kahfi [18]: 31 (where “bracelets of gold” are mentioned) and the corresponding note 41.

20 Implying that God Himself will slake their spiritual thirst by purifying their inner selves “of all envy, and rancour, and malice, and all that leads to harm, and all that is base in man’s nature” (Ibn Kathir, quoting Ali ibn Abi Talib), and by allowing them to “drink” of His Own Light (Razi).


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 22

إِنَّ هَٰذَا كَانَ لَكُمْ جَزَاءً وَكَانَ سَعْيُكُمْ مَشْكُورًا

Innaa haazaa kaana lakum jazz ‘anw wa kaana sa’yukum mashkooraa

22. [And they will be told:] “Verily, all this is your reward since Your endeavour [in life] has met [God’s] goodly acceptance!”


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 23

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ تَنْزِيلًا

Innaa nahnu nazzalnaa ‘alaikal quraana tanzeelaa

23. VERILY, [O believer,] it is We who have bestowed from on high this Qur’an upon thee, step by step21—truly a bestowal from on high!


21 The gradualness of Qur’anic revelation is implied in the verbal form nazzalna.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 24

فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثِمًا أَوْ كَفُورًا

Fasbir lihukmi Rabbika wa laa tuti’ minhum aasiman aw kafooraa

24. Await, then, in all patience thy Sustainer’s judgment,22 and pay no heed to any of them, who is a wilful sinner or an ingrate;


22 This connects with the preceding mention of the life to come, in which the righteous will meet with bliss, and the evildoers with suffering.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 25

وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا

Wazkuris ma Rabbika bukratanw wa aseelaa

25. and bear in mind thy Sustainer’s name23 at morn and evening


23 I.e., His “attributes” as they manifest themselves in His creation—since the human mind can grasp only the fact of His existence and the manifestation of those “attributes”, but never the “how” of His Reality (Razi).


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 26

وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَاسْجُدْ لَهُ وَسَبِّحْهُ لَيْلًا طَوِيلًا

Wa minal laili fasjud lahoo wa sabbihhu lailan taweelaa

26. and during some of the night,24 and prostrate thyself before Him, and extol His limitless glory throughout the long night.25


24 I.e., at all times of wakefulness.

25 I.e., “whenever unhappiness oppresses thee and all seems dark around thee”.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 27

إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ يُحِبُّونَ الْعَاجِلَةَ وَيَذَرُونَ وَرَاءَهُمْ يَوْمًا ثَقِيلًا

Inna haaa’ulaa’i yuhibboona ‘aajilata wa yazaroona waraaa’ahum yawman saqeelaa

27. Behold, they [who are unmindful of God] love this fleeting life, and leave behind them [all thought of] a grief-laden Day.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 28

نَحْنُ خَلَقْنَاهُمْ وَشَدَدْنَا أَسْرَهُمْ ۖ وَإِذَا شِئْنَا بَدَّلْنَا أَمْثَالَهُمْ تَبْدِيلًا

Nahnu khalaqnaahum wa shadadnaaa asrahum wa izaa shi’naa baddalnaaa amsaala hum tabdeelaa

28. [They will not admit to themselves that] it is We who have created them and strengthened their make26—and [that] if it be Our will We can replace them entirely with others of their kind.27


26 I.e., endowed their bodies and minds with the ability to enjoy “this fleeting life”.

27 I.e., with other human beings who would have the same powers of body and mind, but would put them to better use.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 29

إِنَّ هَٰذِهِ تَذْكِرَةٌ ۖ فَمَنْ شَاءَ اتَّخَذَ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِ سَبِيلًا

Inna haazihee tazkiratun fa man shaaa’at takhaza ilaa rabbihee sabeela

29. VERILY, all this is an admonition: whoever, then, so wills, may unto his Sustainer find a way.


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 30

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلَّا أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

Wa maa tashaaa’oona illaa anyyashaaa’al laah; innal laahaa kaana’Aleeman Hakeema

30. But you cannot will it unless God wills [to show you that way]:28 for, behold, God is indeed all-seeing, wise.


28 See note 11 on At-Takwir [81]: 28-29. The perplexity of some of the commentators at the apparent “contradiction” between those two verses—as well as between verses 29-30 of the present surah—has been caused by their elliptic formulation, which, I believe, is resolved in my rendering. In the present instance, in particular, there is a clear connection between the above two verses and verse 3 of this surah: “We have shown him the way: [and it rests with him to prove himself] either grateful or ungrateful”. (Cf. also Al-Muddathir [74]: 56.)


Surah Al-Insan Ayat 31

يُدْخِلُ مَنْ يَشَاءُ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ ۚ وَالظَّالِمِينَ أَعَدَّ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا أَلِيمًا

Yudkhilu mai yashaaa’u fee rahmatih; wazzaalimeena a’adda lahum ‘azaaban aleemaa

31. He admits unto His grace everyone who wills [to be admitted];29 but as for the evildoers—for them has He readied grievous suffering [in the life to come].


29 Or: “whomever He wills”—either of these two formulations being syntactically justified.


Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad