top of page

Quran Chapter 3 [part 1] - The Family of Imran - Confirmation, Is Scripture Precise or Symbolic?

The Medinan sura begins by emphasizing that the Quran confirms the earlier scriptures and goes on to say later that the central tenet of faith is devotion to God (verses 19–20). The story of Zachariah, Mary, and Jesus is given in verses 35–64 and the fact that Jesus was unfathered, just as Adam was created without a father, is accentuated. Aspects of the battles of Badr and Uhud are described, especially the latter, where the Muslims disobeyed the Prophet and were defeated. The sura documents the tension between the Muslims and certain of the Jews and Christians (verses 65–85 and 98–101), then closes by emphasizing the unity of faith and conduct between the Muslims and these People of faith.

Quran Confirms Previous Revelations

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

1 Alif Lam Mim [a]

2 God: there is no god but Him, the Ever Living, the Ever Watchful. 3 Step by step, He has sent the Scripture down to you [Prophet] with the Truth, confirming what went before: He sent down the Torah and the Gospel 4 earlier as a guide for people and He has sent down the distinction [between right and wrong]. [b] Those who deny God’s revelations will suffer severe torment: God is almighty and capable of retribution. 5 Nothing on earth or in heaven is hidden from God: 6 it is He who shapes you all in the womb as He pleases. There is no God but Him, the Mighty, the Wise:

Precise or Symbolic?

7 it is He who has sent this Scripture down to you [Prophet]. Some of its verses are definite in meaning–these are the cornerstone [c] of the Scripture–and others are ambiguous. The perverse at heart eagerly pursue the ambiguities in their attempt to make trouble and to pin down a specific meaning of their own: only God knows the true meaning. Those firmly grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it: it is all from our Lord’–only those with real perception will take heed– 8 ‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. 9 Our Lord, You will gather all people on the Day of which there is no doubt: [d] God never breaks His promise.’

10 Neither their possessions nor their children will be any use to the disbelievers against God. The disbelievers will be fuel for the Fire, 11 just as Pharaoh’s people and their predecessors denied Our revelations, and God punished them for their sins: God is severe in punishing. 12 [Prophet], say to the disbelievers, ‘You will be defeated and driven together into Hell, a foul resting place. 13 You have already seen a sign in the two armies that met in battle, one fighting for God’s cause and the other made up of disbelievers. With their own eyes [the former] saw [the latter] to be twice their number, [e] but God helps whoever He will. There truly is a lesson in this for all with eyes to see.’

An Invitation

14 The love of desirable things is made alluring for men– women, children, gold and silver treasures piled up high, horses with fine markings, livestock, and farmland– these may be the joys of this life, but God has the best place to return to. 15 [Prophet], say, ‘Would you like me to tell you of things that are better than all of these? Their Lord will give those who are mindful of God Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will stay with pure spouses and God’s good pleasure– God is fully aware of His servants– 16 those who say, “Our Lord, we believe, so forgive us our sins and protect us from suffering in the Fire,” 17 those who are steadfast, truthful, truly devout, who give [in God’s cause] and pray before dawn for forgiveness.’

18 God bears witness that there is no god but Him, as do the angels and those who have knowledge. He upholds justice. There is no god but Him, the Almighty, the All Wise. 19 True Religion, in God’s eyes, is Islam: [devotion to Him alone]. [f] Those who were given the Scripture disagreed out of rivalry, only after they had been given knowledge– if anyone denies God’s revelations, God is swift to take account– 20 if they argue with you [Prophet], say, ‘I have devoted myself [g] to God alone and so have my followers.’ Ask those who were given the Scripture, as well as those without one, ‘Do you too devote yourselves to Him alone?’ If they do, they will be guided, but if they turn away, your only duty is to convey the message. God is aware of His servants.

Fear Retribution

21 Give news of agonizing torment to those who ignore God’s revelations, who unjustifiably kill prophets, who kill those who command that justice is done: 22 the deeds of such people will come to nothing in this world and in the next and no one will help them. 23 Have you considered those who were given a share of the Scripture? When they are asked to accept judgement from God’s Scripture, some of them turn their backs and walk away, all because they declare, 24 ‘The Fire will only touch us for a limited number of days.’ The lies they have invented have led them astray in their own religion. 25 How will they fare when We gather them together for a Day of which there is no doubt, when every soul will be paid in full for what it has done, and they will not be wronged?

26 Say, ‘God, holder of all control, [h] You give control to whoever You will and remove it from whoever You will; You elevate whoever You will and humble whoever You will. All that is good lies in Your hand: You have power over everything. 27 You merge night into day and day into night; You bring the living out of the dead and the dead out of the living; You provide limitlessly for whoever You will.’

28 The believers should not make the disbelievers their allies rather than other believers– anyone who does such a thing will isolate himself completely from God– except when you need to protect yourselves from them. God warns you to beware of Him: the Final Return is to God. 29 Say [Prophet], ‘God knows everything that is in your hearts, whether you conceal or reveal it; He knows everything in the heavens and earth; God has power over all things.’ 30 On the Day when every soul finds all the good it has done present before it, it will wish all the bad it has done to be far, far away. God warns you to beware of Him, but God is compassionate towards His servants.


a. See note to 2: 1.

b. See also 5: 48; 25: 1.

c. Literally ‘the mother’.

d. And on the day itself there will no longer be any doubt (see 102: 3–8).

e. This is an allusion to the Battle of Badr, where the Muslim army was vastly outnumbered but still victorious (see 8: 43–4).

f. See note to 2: 128 above.

g. Literally ‘submitted my face’.

h. Or sovereignty.

The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)

The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.



bottom of page