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Sura 90 of the Quran
The City
Classification Meccan
Other namesThe Town
No. of verses 20
No. of words82
No. of letters342

Al-Balad (“The City”) is the 90th chapter of the Qur’an with 20 ayat.


Period of revelation

Its subject matter and style resemble those of the earliest Surahs revealed at Mecca, [1] but it contains a pointer which indicates that it was sent down in the period when the disbelievers of Makkah had resolved to oppose Muhammad, and made it lawful for themselves to commit tyranny and excess against him.

Mecca Saudi Arabian city and capital of the Makkah province

Mecca is a city in the Hejazi region of the Arabian Peninsula, and the plain of Tihamah in Saudi Arabia, and is also the capital and administrative headquarters of the Makkah Region. The city is located 70 km (43 mi) inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of 277 m (909 ft) above sea level, and 340 kilometres (210 mi) south of Medina. Its resident population in 2012 was roughly 2 million, although visitors more than triple this number every year during the Ḥajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhūl-Ḥijjah.

Theme and subject matter

According to an interpretation expounded on in the tafsīr (commentary) written by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (d. 1979) entitled Tafhim al-Qur'an , [2] Its theme is to explain the true position of man in the world and of the world in relation to man and to tell that God has shown to man both the highways of good and evil, has also provided for him the means to judge and see and follow them, and now it rests upon mans own effort and judgment whether he chooses the path of virtue and reaches felicity or adopts the path of vice and meets with doom.

<i>Tafsir</i> exegesis of the Quran

Tafsir is the Arabic word for exegesis, usually of the Qur'an. An author of a tafsir is a mufassir. A Qur'anic tafsir attempts to provide elucidation, explanation, interpretation, context or commentary for clear understanding and conviction of God's will.

First, the city of Makkah and the hardships being faced therein by Muhammad and the state of the children of Adam have been cited as a witness to the truth that this world is not a place of rest and ease for man, where he might have been born to enjoy life, but here he has been created into toil and struggle. If this theme is read with verse 39 of Surah An-Najm (Laisa lil insani illa ma saa: there is nothing for man but what he has striven for), it becomes plain that in this world the future of man depends on his toil and struggle, effort and striving.

An-Najm 53rd chapter of the Quran

Sūrat an-Najm is the 53rd chapter (surah) of the Qur'an with 62 verses (āyāt). The surah that opens with the oath of the Divine One swearing by every one of the stars, as they descend and disappear beneath the horizon, that Muḥammad is indeed God’s awaited Messenger. It takes its name from Ayat#1, which mentions “the stars” (najm). The surah confirms the divine source of the Prophet’s message and refers to his ascension to heaven during the Night Journey. The surah refutes the claims of the disbelievers about the goddesses and the angels, and lists several truths about God’s power. It closes with a warning of the imminent Day of Judgement.

After this, man's misunderstanding that he is all in all in this world and that there is no superior power to watch what he does and to call him to account, has been refuted.

Then, taking one of the many moral concepts of ignorance held by man, as an example, it has been pointed out what wrong criteria of merit and greatness he has proposed for himself in the world. The person who for ostentation and display squanders heaps of wealth, not only himself prides upon his extravagances but the people also admire him for it enthusiastically, whereas the Being Who is watching over his deeds, sees by what methods he obtained the wealth and in what ways and with what motives and intention he spent it.

Then Allah says: We have given man the means of knowledge and the faculties of thinking and understanding and opened up before him both the highways of virtue and vice: one way leads down to moral depravity, and it is an easy way pleasing for the self; the other way leads up to moral heights, which is steep like an uphill road, for scaling which man has to exercise self- restraint. It is man's weakness that he prefers slipping down into the abyss to scaling the cliff.

Then, Allah has explained what the steep road is by following which man can ascend to the heights. It is that he should give up spending for ostentation, display and pride and should spend his wealth to help the orphans and the needy, should believe in Allah and His Religion and joining the company of believers should participate in the construction of a society which should fulfill the demands of virtue and righteousness patiently and should be compassionate to the people. The end of those who follow this way is that they would become worthy of Allah's mercies. On the contrary, the end of those who follow the wrong way, is the fire of Hell from which there is no escape.

Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), who was an Egyptian author, Islamist, and leading intellectual of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, surmised the overall theme of Surat Al-Lail in the introduction to his extensive Quranic commentary, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an (In the shades of the Qur'an) by saying:

Sayyid Qutb Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and politician

Sayyid Qutb Ibrahim Husayn Shadhili was an Egyptian author, educator, Islamic theorist, poet, and a leading member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966, he was convicted of plotting the assassination of Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser and was executed by hanging.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

This short sūrah touches on a great many facts which are of central importance to human life. Its style is characterized by powerful allusions. Numerous facts of this nature are not easily combined in any form of concise writing except that of the Qur’ān, with its unique ability to hit the right chords with such swift and penetrating strokes.

Sayid Qutb, Fi Zilal al-Qur'an

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Al-Qalam 68th chapter of the Quran

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Ash-Shams 91st chapter of the Quran

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Ad-Dhuha 93rd chapter of the Quran

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  1. Quran Verses in Chronological Order
  2. Maududi, S., Tafhim al-Qur'an