Al-Balad  (The City, This Countryside, The Town)


This Surah consists of 20 verses, 82 sentences, 320 letters and 1 Ruku'. 


The Sura has been so named after the word al balad in the first verse.

Period of Revelation

Its subject matter and style resemble those of the earliest Surahs revealed at Makkah, but it contains a pointer which indicates that it was sent down in the period when the disbelievers of Makkah had resolved to oppose the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace), and made it lawful for themselves to commit tyranny and excess against him.

Theme and Subject Matter

In this Surah a vast subject has been compressed into a few brief sentences, and it is a miracle of the Quran that a complete ideology of life which could hardly be explained in a thick volume has been abridged most effectively in brief sentences of this short Surah. 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 man's own effort and judgement whether he chooses the path of virtue and reaches felicity or adopts the path of vice and meets with doom.


First, the city of Makkah and the hardships being faced therein by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) 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.


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 fulfil 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.




Bismi Allahi alrrahmani alrraheemi

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

90 : 1


1. La oqsimu bihatha albaladi

I swear by this City (of Mecca) -

90 : 2

2. Waanta hillun bihatha albaladi

Of which you are a dweller;

90 : 3

3. Wawalidin wama walada

And by the bonds between those who beget and those who are begotten (parents and the infant)

90 : 4

4. Laqad khalaqna al-insana fee kabadin

Verily We have created man in a state of discomfiture.

90 : 5

5. Ayahsabu an lan yaqdira AAalayhi ahadun

Is he of the impression that no one has control over him?

90 : 6

6. Yaqoolu ahlaktu malan lubadan

And he boasts : 'I have blown away a lot of wealth!'

90 : 7

7. Ayahsabu an lam yarahu ahadun

Is he of the impression that no one is perusing him?

90 : 8

8. Alam najAAal lahu AAaynayni

Have We not given him two eyes -

90 : 9

9. Walisanan washafatayni

And a tongue and two lips -

90 : 10

10. Wahadaynahu alnnajdayni

And then guided him to the two tracks (of good and evil)?

(Some commentators interpret this verse in a completely different way.  According to them, Allah gave the human baby two eyes with which to look for and find his source of nourishment which are the two breasts of his mother and taught him to use his two lips and tongue to scream for milk)

90 : 11

11. Fala iqtahama alAAaqabata

But he has shown no signs of walking on the right track.

90 : 12

12. Wama adraka ma alAAaqabatu

What will convey to you what the right track is?

90 : 13

13. Fakku raqabatin

It is the liberating of a slave;

90 : 14

14. Aw itAAamun fee yawmin thee masghabatin

It is the appeasing of hunger on a day of starvation -

90 : 15

15. Yateeman tha maqrabatin

Of an orphan from your own kindred

90 : 16


16. Aw miskeenan tha matrabatin

Or of a homeless destitute.

90 : 17

17. Thumma kana mina allatheena amanoo watawasaw bialssabri watawasaw bialmarhamati

And it is being of those who believe and admonish each other to be assiduous and exhort one another to be compassionate!

90 : 18

18. Ola-ika as-habu almaymanati

Their place will be on the right side!

90 : 19

19. Waallatheena kafaroo bi-ayatina hum as-habu almash-amati

But those who vituperate Our revelations, their place will be on the left side!

90 : 20

20. AAalayhim narun mu/sadatun

For them is fire in which they will remain forever engulfed! (R)

1. I swear by this city (Makkah);

2. And you are free (from sin, to punish the enemies of Islâm on the Day of the conquest) in this city (Makkah)[] ,

3. And by the begetter (i.e. Adam <><>) and that which he begot (i.e. his progeny);

4. Verily, We have created man in toil.

5. Thinks he that none can overcome him?

6. He says (boastfully): "I have wasted wealth in abundance!"

7. Thinks he that none sees him?

8. Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?

9. And a tongue and a pair of lips?

10. And shown him the two ways (good and evil)?

11. But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep.

12. And what will make you know the path that is steep?

13. (It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.)[]

14. Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine),

15. To an orphan near of kin.

16. Or to a Miskîn (poor) afflicted with misery.

17. Then he became one of those who believed, and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to pity and compassion.

18. They are those on the Right Hand (the dwellers of Paradise),

19. But those who disbelieved in Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they are those on the Left Hand (the dwellers of Hell).

20. The Fire will be shut over them (i.e. they will be enveloped by the Fire without any opening or window or outlet.

YUSUFALI: I do call to witness this City;-
PICKTHAL: Nay, I swear by this city -
SHAKIR: Nay! I swear by this city.

YUSUFALI: And thou art a freeman of this City;-
PICKTHAL: And thou art an indweller of this city -
SHAKIR: And you shall be made free from obligation in this city--

YUSUFALI: And (the mystic ties of) parent and child;-
PICKTHAL: And the begetter and that which he begat,
SHAKIR: And the begetter and whom he begot.

YUSUFALI: Verily We have created man into toil and struggle.
PICKTHAL: We verily have created man in an atmosphere:
SHAKIR: Certainly We have created man to be in distress.

YUSUFALI: Thinketh he, that none hath power over him?
PICKTHAL: Thinketh he that none hath power over him?
SHAKIR: Does he think that no one has power over him?

YUSUFALI: He may say (boastfully); Wealth have I squandered in abundance!
PICKTHAL: And he saith: I have destroyed vast wealth:
SHAKIR: He shall say: I have wasted much wealth.

YUSUFALI: Thinketh he that none beholdeth him?
PICKTHAL: Thinketh he that none beholdeth him?
SHAKIR: Does he think that no one sees him?

YUSUFALI: Have We not made for him a pair of eyes?-
PICKTHAL: Did We not assign unto him two eyes
SHAKIR: Have We not given him two eyes,

YUSUFALI: And a tongue, and a pair of lips?-
PICKTHAL: And a tongue and two lips,
SHAKIR: And a tongue and two lips,

YUSUFALI: And shown him the two highways?
PICKTHAL: And guide him to the parting of the mountain ways?
SHAKIR: And pointed out to him the two conspicuous ways?

YUSUFALI: But he hath made no haste on the path that is steep.
PICKTHAL: But he hath not attempted the Ascent -
SHAKIR: But he would not attempt the uphill road,

YUSUFALI: And what will explain to thee the path that is steep?-
PICKTHAL: Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Ascent is! -
SHAKIR: And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is?

YUSUFALI: (It is:) freeing the bondman;
PICKTHAL: (It is) to free a slave,
SHAKIR: (It is) the setting free of a slave,

YUSUFALI: Or the giving of food in a day of privation
PICKTHAL: And to feed in the day of hunger.
SHAKIR: Or the giving of food in a day of hunger

YUSUFALI: To the orphan with claims of relationship,
PICKTHAL: An orphan near of kin,
SHAKIR: To an orphan, having relationship,

YUSUFALI: Or to the indigent (down) in the dust.
PICKTHAL: Or some poor wretch in misery,
SHAKIR: Or to the poor man lying in the dust.

YUSUFALI: Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion.
PICKTHAL: And to be of those who believe and exhort one another to perseverance and exhort one another to pity.
SHAKIR: Then he is of those who believe and charge one another to show patience, and charge one another to show compassion.

YUSUFALI: Such are the Companions of the Right Hand.
PICKTHAL: Their place will be on the right hand.
SHAKIR: These are the people of the right hand.

YUSUFALI: But those who reject Our Signs, they are the (unhappy) Companions of the Left Hand.
PICKTHAL: But those who disbelieve Our revelations, their place will be on the left hand.
SHAKIR: And (as for) those who disbelieve in our communications, they are the people of the left hand.

YUSUFALI: On them will be Fire vaulted over (all round).
PICKTHAL: Fire will be an awning over them.
SHAKIR: On them is fire closed over.