Meaning of Quran

Al-Balad | The City

With the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very-Merciful.

[90:1] I swear by this city,

[90:2] and (O Prophet,) you are going to be allowed (to fight) in this city

[90:3] and by the father and all those he begot,

[90:4] indeed We have created man (to live) in hard struggle.

[90:5] Does he think that no one has power over him?

[90:6] He says, I have spent a lot of wealth.

[90:7] Does he think that no one has seen him?

[90:8] Did We not make for him two eyes,

[90:9] and one tongue and two lips,

[90:10] and showed him the two ways?

[90:11]Yet he did not make his way through the steep course,

[90:12] And what may let you know what the steep course is?

[90:13] (It is) freeing of the neck of a slave,

[90:14] or giving food in a day of hunger

[90:15] to an orphan near of kin,

[90:16] or to a needy person lying in dust

[90:17] then he did not join those who believe and advise each other to be patient and advise each other to be merciful.

[90:18] Those are the People of the Right Hand. (i.e. their books of deeds will be given in their right hands)

[90:19] As for those who reject Our verses, they are the People of the Left Hand. (i.e. their books of deeds will be given in their left hands.)

[90:20] Upon them will be the Fire, enveloping them with closed exits.


Overview of Surah Al-Balad

  1. Title and Position: Surah Al-Balad is the 90th chapter of the Quran. The title “Al-Balad” translates to “The City,” referring to the holy city of Mecca, where the Prophet Muhammad was situated.
  2. Verses and Structure: This surah contains 20 verses. It is notable for its emphasis on the inherent struggles of human life, the moral obligations of individuals, and the contrasts between the righteous and the wicked.
  3. Themes and Messages: Major themes include the challenges and trials inherent in human existence, the call to compassion and charitable actions, the concept of ethical responsibility, and the consequences of one’s choices in the hereafter.
  4. Significance in Islamic Thought: Surah Al-Balad is significant for its exploration of human ethical behavior, the emphasis on social responsibility, and its clear depiction of the choices that lead to salvation or perdition.

Detailed Explanation

  1. Oath by the City of Mecca: The surah begins with an oath by the city of Mecca, highlighting its sacred status and the significant experiences of the Prophet within the city, setting a context for the subsequent messages.
  2. Human Struggle and Responsibility: It reflects on the inherent struggles of human life, suggesting that these challenges are a test of one’s character and a means to cultivate virtue and empathy.
  3. Call to Ethical Conduct: The surah advocates for compassionate behavior, urging individuals to free slaves, feed the needy, especially during times of hardship, and to be among those who believe and encourage patience and mercy.
  4. Contrasting Paths: Al-Balad delineates the two paths individuals can take, one leading to righteousness and the other to wickedness, emphasizing the importance of conscious ethical choices.
  5. Ultimate Accountability: The surah concludes with a reminder of the Day of Judgment, where individuals will face the consequences of their actions, reinforcing the theme of accountability and divine justice.


  1. Why is Surah Al-Balad named “The City”?
    • The surah is named “Al-Balad” because it opens with an oath by “this city,” which is Mecca, drawing attention to its importance and the experiences of the Prophet Muhammad within it.
  2. What does the surah say about the nature of human life?
    • It acknowledges the inherent struggles and hardships of human life, portraying them as a test that shapes one’s moral and spiritual character.
  3. How does Surah Al-Balad emphasize ethical behavior?
    • The surah underscores the significance of ethical behavior, particularly highlighting acts of charity, kindness, and the importance of fostering patience and compassion within the community.
  4. What are the key choices highlighted in the surah?
    • Surah Al-Balad emphasizes the dichotomy of choices between righteous deeds that lead to salvation and wicked actions that lead to perdition, urging individuals to choose the path of righteousness and ethical conduct.

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