Surah Shams in Arabic with English Transliteration and Translation

91. Ash-Shams (The Sun) – الشمس

Ash-Shams is the 91st surah (chapter) of Al-Qur’an. It consists of 15 ayat (verses) that were all revealed in Mecca.

THE KEY-WORD by which this surah has always been identified occurs in its first verse. It is generally assumed that it was revealed shortly after surah 97 (Al-Qadr).

بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 1

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحٰىهَاۖ

Wash shamsi wa duhaa haa

1. CONSIDER the sun and its radiant brightness,

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 2

وَالْقَمَرِ اِذَا تَلٰىهَاۖ

Wal qamari izaa talaa haa

2. and the moon as it reflects the sun!1

1 Lit., “as it follows it (talaha)”, i.e., the sun. According to the great philologist Al-Farra, who lived in the second century after the hijrah, “the meaning is that the moon derives its light from the sun” (quoted by Razi). This is also Raghib’s interpretation of the above phrase.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 3

وَالنَّهَارِ اِذَا جَلّٰىهَاۖ

Wannahaari izaa jallaa haa

3. Consider the day as it reveals the world,2

2 Lit., “it”—a pronoun apparently indicating “the world” or “the earth” (Zamakhshari). It is to be noted that verses 1-10 stress the polarity—both physical and spiritual—inherent in all creation and contrasting with the oneness and uniqueness of the Creator.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 4

وَالَّيْلِ اِذَا يَغْشٰىهَاۖ

Wallaili izaa yaghshaa haa

4. and the night as it veils it darkly!

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 5

وَالسَّمَاۤءِ وَمَا بَنٰىهَاۖ

Wassamaaa’i wa maa banaahaa

5. Consider the sky and its wondrous make,3

3 Lit., “and that which has built it”—i.e., the wondrous qualities which are responsible for the harmony and coherence of the visible cosmos (which is evidently the meaning of the term sama’ in this context). Similarly, the subsequent reference to the earth, which reads literally, “that which has spread it out”, is apparently an allusion to the qualities responsible for the beauty and variety of its expanse.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 6

وَالْاَرْضِ وَمَا طَحٰىهَاۖ

Wal ardi wa maa tahaahaa

6. and the earth and all its expanse!

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 7

وَنَفْسٍ وَّمَا سَوّٰىهَاۖ

Wa nafsinw wa maa sawwaahaa

7. Consider the human self,4 and how it is formed in accordance with what it is meant to be,5

4 As in so many other instances, the term nafs, which has a very wide range of meanings (see first sentence of note 1 on Surah An-Nisa’ [4]: 1), denotes here the human self or personality as a whole: that is, a being composed of a physical body and that inexplicable life-essence loosely described as “soul”.

5 Lit., “and that which has made [or “formed”] it (sawwaha) in accordance with. . .”, etc. For this particular connotation of the verb sawwa, see note 1 on Surah Al-A’la [87]: 2, which represents the oldest Qur’anic instance of its use in the above sense. The reference to man and that which constitutes the “human personality”, as well as the implied allusion to the extremely complex phenomenon of a life-entity in which bodily needs and urges, emotions and intellectual activities are so closely intertwined as to be indissoluble, follows organically upon a call to consider the inexplicable grandeur of the universe—so far as it is perceptible and comprehensible to man—as a compelling evidence of God’s creative power.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 8

فَاَلْهَمَهَا فُجُوْرَهَا وَتَقْوٰىهَاۖ

Fa-alhamahaa fujoorahaa wa taqwaahaa

8. and how it is imbued with moral failings as well as with consciousness of God!6

6 Lit., “and [consider] that which has inspired it with its immoral doings (fujuraha) and its God-consciousness (taqwaha)”—i.e., the fact that man is equally liable to rise to great spiritual heights as to fall into utter immorality is an essential characteristic of human nature as such. In its deepest sense, man’s ability to act wrongly is a concomitant to his ability to act rightly: in other words, it is this inherent polarity of tendencies which gives to every “right” choice a value and, thus, endows man with moral free will (cf. in this connection note 16 on Surah Al-A’raf [7]: 24-25).

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 9

قَدْ اَفْلَحَ مَنْ زَكّٰىهَاۖ

Qad aflaha man zakkaahaa

9. To a happy state shall indeed attain he who causes this [self] to grow in purity,

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 10

وَقَدْ خَابَ مَنْ دَسّٰىهَاۗ

Wa qad khaaba man dassaahaa

10. and truly lost is he who buries it [in darkness].

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 11

كَذَّبَتْ ثَمُوْدُ بِطَغْوٰىهَآ

Kazzabat Samoodu bi taghwaahaaa

11. TO [THIS] TRUTH gave the lie, in their overweening arrogance, [the tribe of] Thamud,7

7 For the story of the tribe of Thamud, given here as an illustration of man’s potential wickedness, see Surah Al-A’raf [7]: 73-79 and the corresponding notes.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 12

اِذِ انْۢبَعَثَ اَشْقٰىهَاۖ

Izim ba’asa ashqaahaa

12. when that most hapless wretch from among them rushed forward [to commit his evil deed],

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 13

فَقَالَ لَهُمْ رَسُوْلُ اللّٰهِ نَاقَةَ اللّٰهِ وَسُقْيٰهَاۗ

Faqaala lahum Rasoolul laahi naaqatal laahi wa suqiyaahaa

13. although God’s apostle had told them, “It is a she-camel belonging to God, so let her drink [and
do her no harm]!”8

8 Regarding this “she-camel belonging to God”, see Surah Al-A’raf [7], note 57. For the particular reference to the injunction, “Let her drink”, see Surah Ash-Shu’ara’ [26]: 155 and the corresponding note 67. The formulation of this passage shows that the legend of the she-camel was well known in pre-Islamic Arabia.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 14

فَكَذَّبُوْهُ فَعَقَرُوْهَاۖ فَدَمْدَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِذَنْۢبِهِمْ فَسَوّٰىهَاۖ

Fakazzaboohu fa’aqaroohaa fadamdama ‘alaihim Rabbuhum bizambihim fasaw waahaa

14. But they gave him the lie, and cruelly slaughtered her9—whereupon their Sustainer visited them with utter destruction for this their sin, destroying them all alike:

9 For this rendering of ‘aqaruha, see note 61 on Surah Al-A’raf [7]: 77.

Surah Ash-Shams Ayat 15

وَلَا يَخَافُ عُقْبٰهَا

Wa laa yakhaafu’uqbaahaa

15. for none [of them] had any fear of what might befall them.10

10 Implying that their total lack of compassion for God’s creatures showed that they did not fear His retribution and, hence, did not really believe in Him.

Source: The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad