Surah A'la in Arabic with English Transliteration and Translation

87. Al-A’la (The All-Highest) – الأعلى

Al-A’la is the 87th surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 19 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.


THIS IS most probably the eighth surah in the chronology of revelation. The key-word by which it has always been known appears in the first verse.

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Surah Al-Ala Ayat 1

سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى

Sabbihisma Rabbikal A’laa

1. EXTOL the limitless glory of thy Sustainer’s name:[the glory of] the Al-Highest,


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 2

الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ

Allazee khalaqa fasawwaa

2. who creates [every thing], and thereupon forms it in accordance with with what it is meant to be,1


1 I.e., He endows it with inner coherence and with qualities consistent with the functions which it is meant to perform, and thus adapts it a priori to the exigencies of its existence.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 3

وَالَّذِي قَدَّرَ فَهَدَىٰ

Wallazee qaddara fahadaa

3. and who determines the nature [of all that exists],2 and thereupon guides it [towards its fulfilment],


2 Cf. the last sentence of Surah Al-Furqan [25]: 2 and the corresponding note 3; also Surah TaHa [20]: 50 and note 31.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 4

وَالَّذِي أَخْرَجَ الْمَرْعَىٰ

Wallazeee akhrajal mar’aa

4. and who brings forth herbage3


3 I.e., metonymically, “who brings forth life and deals death”.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 5

فَجَعَلَهُ غُثَاءً أَحْوَىٰ

Faja’alahoo ghusaaa’an ahwaa

5. and thereupon causes it to decay into rustbrown stubble!3


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 6

سَنُقْرِئُكَ فَلَا تَنْسَىٰ

Sanuqri’uka falaa tansaaa

6. WE SHALL teach thee, and thou wilt not forget [aught of what thou art taught],


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 7

إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّهُ يَعْلَمُ الْجَهْرَ وَمَا يَخْفَىٰ

Illaa maa shaaa’al laah; innahoo ya’lamul jahra wa maa yakhfaa

7. save what God may will [thee to forget]4—for, verily, He [alone] knows all that is open to [man’s] perception as well as all that is hidden [from it]5—:


4 The classical commentators assume that the above words are addressed specifically to the Prophet, and that, therefore, they relate to his being taught the Qur’an and being promised that he would not forget
anything thereof, “save what God may will [thee to forget]”. This last clause has ever since given much
trouble to the commentators, inasmuch as it is not very plausible that He who has revealed the Qur’an to
the Prophet should cause him to forget anything of it. Hence, many unconvincing explanations have
been advanced from very early times down to our own days, the least convincing being that last refuge of every perplexed Qur’an-commentator, the “doctrine of abrogation” (refuted in my note 87 on Surah Al-Baqarah [2]: 106). However, the supposed difficulty of interpretation disappears as soon as we allow ourselves to realize that the above passage, though ostensibly addressed to the Prophet, is directed at man in general, and that it is closely related to an earlier Qur’anic revelation—namely, the first five verses of Surah Al-‘Alaq [96] (“The Germ-Cell”) and, in particular, verses 3-5, which speak of God’s having “taught man what he did not know”. In note 3 on those verses I have expressed the opinion that they allude to mankind’s cumulative acquisition of empirical and rational knowledge, handed down from generation to generation and from one civilization to another: and it is to this very phenomenon that the present passage, too, refers. We are told here that God, who has formed man in accordance with what he is meant to be and has promised to guide him, will enable him to acquire (and thus, as it were, “impart” to him) elements of knowledge which mankind will accumulate, record and collectively “remember”—except what God may cause man to “forget” (in another word, to abandon) as having become redundant by virtue of his new experiences and his acquisition of wider, more differentiated elements of knowledge, empirical as well as deductive or speculative, including more advanced, empirically acquired skills. However, the very next sentence makes it clear that all knowledge arrived at through our observation of the external world and through speculation, though necessary and most valuable, is definitely limited in scope and does not, therefore, in itself suffice to give us an insight into ultimate truths.

5 I.e., all that is intrinsically beyond the reach of human perception (al-ghayb): the implication being that, since human knowledge must forever remain imperfect, man cannot really find his way through life without the aid of divine revelation.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 8

وَنُيَسِّرُكَ لِلْيُسْرَىٰ

Wa nu-yassiruka lilyusraa

8. and [thus] shall We make easy for thee the path towards [ultimate] ease.6


6 I.e., towards an ease of the mind and peace of the spirit.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 9

فَذَكِّرْ إِنْ نَفَعَتِ الذِّكْرَىٰ

Fazakkir in nafa’atizzikraa

9. REMIND, THEN, [others of the truth, regardless of] whether this reminding [would seem to] be of use [or not]:7


7 Thus Baghawi, as well as Razi in one of his alternative interpretations of this phrase.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 10

سَيَذَّكَّرُ مَنْ يَخْشَىٰ

Sa yazzakkaru maiyakhshaa

10. in mind will keep it he who stands in awe [of God],


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 11

وَيَتَجَنَّبُهَا الْأَشْقَى

Wa yatajannabuhal ashqaa

11. but aloof from it will remain that most hapless wretch—


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 12

الَّذِي يَصْلَى النَّارَ الْكُبْرَىٰ

Allazee yaslan Naaral kubraa

12. he who [in the life to come] shall have to endure the great fire


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 13

ثُمَّ لَا يَمُوتُ فِيهَا وَلَا يَحْيَىٰ

Summa laa yamootu feehaa wa laa yahyaa

13. wherein he will neither die nor remain alive.8


8 I.e., in consequence of having remained aloof from the divine reminder. (Cf. Surah Al-Muddathir [74]: 28-29.)


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 14

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ تَزَكَّىٰ

Qad aflaha man tazakkaa

14. To happiness [in the life to come] will indeed attain he who attains to purity [in this world],


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 15

وَذَكَرَ اسْمَ رَبِّهٖ فَصَلّٰىۗ

Wa zakaras ma Rabbihee fasallaa

15. and remembers his Sustainer’s name, and prays [unto Him].


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 16

بَلْ تُؤْثِرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا

Bal tu’siroonal hayaatad dunyaa

16. But nay, [O men,] you prefer the life of this world,


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 17

وَالْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ وَأَبْقَىٰ

Wal Aakhiratu khairunw wa abqaa

17. although the life to come is better and more enduring.


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 18

إِنَّ هَٰذَا لَفِي الصُّحُفِ الْأُولَىٰ

Inna haazaa lafis suhu fil oolaa

18. Verily, [all] this has indeed been [said] in the earlier revelations—


Surah Al-Ala Ayat 19

صُحُفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَىٰ

Suhufi Ibraaheema wa Moosaa

19. the revelations of Abraham and Moses.9


9 These two names are given here only as examples of earlier prophetic revelations, thus stressing, once
again, the twofold fact of continuity in mankind’s religious experiences and of the identity of the basic truths preached by all the prophets. (cf. also Surah An-Najm [53]: 36 ff.) The noun suhuf (sing. sahifah), which literally denotes “leaves [of a book]” or “scrolls”, is synonymous with kitab in all the senses of this term (Jawhari): hence, in the above context, “revelations”.


Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss)