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Sura 30 of the Quran
The Romans
Other namesThe Byzantines, The Greeks
PositionJuzʼ 21
No. of Rukus6
No. of verses60
No. of Sajdahsnone

Ar-Rūm (Arabic: الْرُّوم, 'The Romans') is the 30th chapter (sūrah) of the Quran. It consists of 60 verses (āyāt). The term Rûm originated in the word "Romans" and in the time of Muhammad referred to the Byzantine Greeks (Eastern Roman Empire), hence the title is sometimes also translated as "The Greeks" or "The Byzantines".[1]


Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation (asbāb al-nuzūl), it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, instead of later in Medina.

According to Theodor Nöldeke, ar-Rūm was the second-to-last Meccan surah and the eighty-fourth surah chronologically; however, he argues its 17th ayah was revealed during the Medinan period.[2] While the first ayah of the surah refers to the defeat of the Byzantine Empire at the hands of the Sasanian Empire near Damascus in the spring of 614, Nöldeke notes that this does not necessarily indicate 614 was the year in which the surah was revealed.[2]

According to al-Tabari, it refers to the Battle of Adhri'at in 614, but this battle is ignored in other sources.[3]


The surah begins by noting the recent defeat of the Byzantines by the Persians at the Battle of Antioch. This defeat posed a significant theological and sociological problem for the early Muslim community because the Byzantines were Christians and considered monotheists while the state that defeated them were considered dualists because the official religion was Zoroastrianism. The surah is in part a response to the non-Muslim Meccans, who took this victory as a sign that the traditional polytheistic practices would win out over monotheism.[4] In the third and fourth ayatayn, the Muslim community is promised that the Byzantines will reverse their defeat into a victory "in a few years' time".[5]

"The Romans were vanquished in the closer region, and they, after being vanquished, will prevail within a certain number of years. To God belongs the command before and after. And that Day ones who believe will be glad with the help of God. He helps whom He wills. And He is The Almighty, The Compassionate."[Quran 30:2–5 (Translated by Laleh Bakhtiar)]

Muslims believe this prophecy was fulfilled with Heraclius' campaign of 622, the Roman victory over Persians and cite it as an example of the miraculous nature of the Quran.[6][7]

Literary units[edit]

In his tafsir, entitled "In the Shade of the Qur'an", Sayyid Qutb divides the surah into two halves, verses 1-32 and verses 33-60.[8] Each section begins with an assertion of God's grace and mercy and ends with encouragement for Muhammad and his community.

First Section: "Signs to Reflect Upon"

  • 30:1-6 "The Natural Bond of Faith" Notes the Byzantine defeat and prophesies a coming victory promised by God
  • 30:1-5 "To Whom Power Belongs" Declares the truth of the universe
  • 30:8-10 "Invitation to Reflect" Reminds the believers of the fates of other disobedient communities
  • 30:11-16 "Two Divergent Wars" Describes the Last Judgment
  • 30:17-27 "Scene of God's Glory," "The Cycle of Life and Death," and "Man and the Universe" Offers praise for God and all His powers and signs
  • 30:28 "Analogy Drawn from Human Life" Uses a metaphor about slavery to condemn the sin of shirk
  • 30:29-32 " Concluding Directive to Prophet" Urges the listeners to turn to the truth and resist dividing into sects

Second Section: "Bringing Life out of the Dead"

  • 30:33-39 "Vacillating Conditions" Reassures the Muslim community of God's mercy and grace for true believers and offers suggestions for behavior like giving to the needy or avoiding usury
  • 30:40-45 "Corruption and Pollution" Reminds people of the promise of resurrection at the Last Judgment and the fates of polytheist communities
  • 30:47-54 "Aspects of God's Grace" Emphasizes resurrection as one of signs of God's mercy and grace when believers lose hope
  • 30:52-57 "The Different Stages of Man's Life" Describes the weakness and folly of man and the fate of evildoers at the Last Judgment
  • 30:58-59 "No Change of Position" Decries the nonbelievers who refuse to listen to Muhammad but asserts that God leads astray who he wills
  • 30:60 Urges Muhammad and his community to persevere

Major themes[edit]

The main theme of this surah is the contrast between monotheism and polytheism. In addition to making logical arguments against ascribing partners to Allah, several verses outline the differing fate for idolaters and believers. The unity of God is also emphasized with descriptions of the glory of Allah through illustrations of His wondrous signs and His miraculous creation.

Sample verse[edit]

Surah 30 includes a verse comparing the association of partners with God, which is the sin of shirk, to the relationship between a master and his slaves.

"He propounds a parable for you from yourselves. Have you—among those whom your right hands possessed—ascribed associates in what We provided you so that you share as equals and you fear them like your awe for each other? Thus, We explain distinctly the signs to a folk who are reasonable."[Quran 30:28 (Translated by Laleh Bakhtiar)]


  1. ^ The Qur'an. OUP Oxford. 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-157407-8.
  2. ^ a b Theodor Nöldeke (1892). Sketches from Eastern History. A. and C. Black.
  3. ^ Bakhīt, Muḥammad ʻAdnān; ʻAbbās, Iḥsān (1987). Bilād al-Shām fī ṣadr al-Islām: 24-30 Jumādá al-Ākhirah 1405 H/16-22 Ādhār 1985 : al-nadwah al-thānīyah min aʻmāl al-Muʼtamar al-Dawlī al-Rābiʻ li-Tārīkh Bilād al-Shām. al-Jāmiʻah al-Urdunīyah. p. 109.
  4. ^ Maḥallī, Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Suyūṭī, and Ṣafī al-Raḥmān Mubārakfūrī. 2002. Tafsīr al-Jalālayn. Riyāḍ: Dār al-Salām.
  5. ^ Abdel Haleem, M. A. 2004. The Qurʼan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 257.
  6. ^ Norman Geisler; Abdul Saleeb (2002). Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (revised ed.). Baker Books. p. 107. ISBN 9780801064302.
  7. ^ Uday Shanker (1992). Internal Unity Of All Religions. Enkay Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 9788185148441.
  8. ^ Qutb, Sayyid. In the shade of the Quran. Vol. 13. Alexandria, Va.: Al Saadawi Publications, 1997.

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