Chapter 21 (Al-Anbiya)

The objective of this chapter is to address the subject of prophethood based on belief in monotheism and the resurrection. Thus, it begins with a reminder that the reckoning is nigh, people are not paying attention to it, and they are turning away from the call to the truth—namely, the heavenly revelation. It is this revelation that is the yardstick for reckoning on the Day of Judgment. The verses then talk about prophethood, how the people mocked the Prophet’s claim to prophethood, and how they charged him with various allegations including:

  • he is merely a human enchanter;
  • what he has brought is medleys of dreams;
  • rather, he has forged them; and
  • he is a poet.

These statements are refuted by talking generally about the universal characteristics of the past prophets which show that the Prophet does not lack anything which they possessed, and what he has brought is consistent with what they brought.

In support of this concise and general introduction, the chapter then presents the stories of a number of prophets including Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Lot, Noah, David, Solomon, Job, Ishmael, Enoch (Idrīs), Ezekiel (Dhū al-Kifl), Jonah (Dhū al-Nūn), Zachariah, John and Jesus.

Then the chapter talks about the Day of Reckoning and what the sinners and the God-fearing shall encounter, that the good outcome is for the God-fearing, and that the earth will be inherited by His righteous servants. It then says that the people turn their backs to prophethood because they are averse to monotheism, which it proves through arguments as it proved prophethood. The chapter contains more threats and warnings than promises or glad tidings. It is unanimously agreed that the chapter is Meccan, and its content and context testify to this.

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