Surah Balad in Arabic with English Transliteration and Translation

90. Al-Balad (The Land) – البلد

Al-Balad is the 90th surah (chapter) of The Holy Qur’an. It consists of 20 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.


ALTHOUGH Suyuti places this surah in the middle of the Mecca period (after Surah Qaf [50]), it is most probable that it belongs to the earliest years of Muhammad’s prophethood.

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Surah Al-Balad Ayat 1

لَا أُقْسِمُ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

Laaa uqsimu bihaazal balad

1. NAY! I call to witness this land—


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 2

وَأَنْتَ حِلٌّ بِهَٰذَا الْبَلَدِ

Wa anta hillum bihaazal balad

2. this land in which thou art free to dwell—1


1 Lit., “while thou art dwelling in this land”. The classical commentators give to the term balad the connotation of “city”, and maintain that the phrase hadha l-balad (“this city”) signifies Mecca, and that the pronoun “thou” in the second verse refers to Muhammad. Although this interpretation is plausible
in view of the fact that the sacredness of Mecca is repeatedly stressed in the Qur’an, the sequence—as well as the tenor of the whole surah—seems to warrant a wider, more general interpretation. In my opinion, the words hadha l-balad denote “this land of man”, i.e., the earth (which latter term is, according to all philologists, one of the primary meanings of balad). Consequently, the “thou” in verse 2 relates to man in general, and that which is metaphorically “called to witness” is his earthly environment.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 3

وَوَالِدٍ وَمَا وَلَدَ

Wa waalidinw wa maa walad

3. and [I call to witness] parent and offspring:2


2 Lit., “the begetter and that which he has begotten”. According to Tabari’s convincing explanation, this
phrase signifies “every parent and all their offspring”—i.e., the human race from its beginning to its end. (The masculine form al-walid denotes, of course, both male and female parents.)


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 4

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ فِي كَبَدٍ

Laqad khalaqnal insaana fee kabad

4. Verily, We have created man into [a life of] pain, toil and trial.3


3 The term kabad, comprising the concepts of “pain”, “distress”, “hardship”, “toil”, “trial”‘, etc., can be rendered only by a compound expression like the one above.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 5

أَيَحْسَبُ أَنْ لَنْ يَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ أَحَدٌ

Ayahsabu al-lai yaqdira ‘alaihi ahad

5. Does he, then, think that no one has power over him?


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 6

يَقُولُ أَهْلَكْتُ مَالًا لُبَدًا

Yaqoolu ahlaktu maalal lubadaa

6. He boasts, “I have spent wealth abundant!”4


4 Implying that his resources—and, therefore, his possibilities—are inexhaustible. We must remember that the term “man” is used here in the sense of “human race”: hence, the above boast is a metonym for the widespread belief—characteristic of all periods of religious decadence—that there are no limits to the power to which man may aspire, and that, therefore, his worldly “interests” are the only criteria of right and wrong.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 7

أَيَحْسَبُ أَنْ لَمْ يَرَهُ أَحَدٌ

Ayahsabu al lam yarahooo ahad

7. Does he, then, think that no one sees him?5


5 I.e., “Does he think that he is responsible to none but himself?”


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 8

أَلَمْ نَجْعَلْ لَهُ عَيْنَيْنِ

Alam naj’al lahoo ‘aynayn

8. Have We not given him two eyes,


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 9

وَلِسَانًا وَشَفَتَيْنِ

Wa lisaananw wa shafatayn

9. and a tongue, and a pair of lips,6


6 I.e., to recognize and to voice the truth of God’s existence or, at least to ask for guidance.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 10

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ

Wa hadaynaahun najdayn

10. and shown him the two highways [of good and evil]?


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 11

فَلَا اقْتَحَمَ الْعَقَبَةَ

Falaq tahamal-‘aqabah

11. But he would not try to ascend the steep uphill road…


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 12

وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا الْعَقَبَةُ

Wa maaa adraaka mal’aqabah

12. And what could make thee conceive what it is, that steep uphill road?


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 13

فَكُّ رَقَبَةٍ

Fakku raqabah

13. [It is] the freeing of one’s neck [from the burden of sin],7


7 Thus Ikrimah, as quoted by Baghawi; also Razi. Alternatively, the phrase fakk raqabah may be rendered
as “the freeing of a human being from bondage” (cf. note 146 on Surah Al-Baqarah [2]: 177), with the latter term covering all those forms of subjugation and exploitation—social, economic or political—which can be rightly described as “slavery”.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 14

أَوْ إِطْعَامٌ فِي يَوْمٍ ذِي مَسْغَبَةٍ

Aw it’aamun fee yawmin zee masghabah

14. or the feeding, upon a day of [one’s own] hunger,


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 15

يَتِيمًا ذَا مَقْرَبَةٍ

Yateeman zaa maqrabah

15. of an orphan near of kin,


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 16

أَوْ مِسْكِينًا ذَا مَتْرَبَةٍ

Aw miskeenan zaa matrabah

16. or of a needy [stranger] lying in the dust—


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 17

ثُمَّ كَانَ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْمَرْحَمَةِ

Summa kaana minal lazeena aamanoo wa tawaasaw bissabri wa tawaasaw bilmarhamah

17. and being, withal, of those who have attained to faith, and who enjoin upon one another patience in adversity, and enjoin upon one another compassion.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 18

أُولَٰئِكَ أَصْحَابُ الْمَيْمَنَةِ

Ulaaa’ika As-haabul maimanah

18. Such are they that have attained to righteousness;8


8 Lit., “people (ashab) of the right side”: see note 25 on Surah Al-Muddathir [74]: 39.


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 19

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِنَا هُمْ أَصْحَابُ الْمَشْأَمَةِ

Wallazeena kafaroo bi aayaatinaa hum as-haabul Mash’amah

19. whereas those who are bent on denying the truth of Our messages—they are such as have lost themselves in evil,


Surah Al-Balad Ayat 20

عَلَيْهِمْ نَارٌ مُؤْصَدَةٌ

Alaihim naarum mu’sadah

20. [with] fire closing in upon them.9


9 I.e., the fires of despair in the life to come “rising over the [sinners’) hearts” and “closing in upon them”: cf. Surah Al-Humazah [104]: 6-8 and the corresponding note 5. The phrase rendered by me as “such as have lost themselves in evil” reads, literally, “people of “the left side (al-mash’amah)”.


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