Besides Surah Al-Baqarah, another longest surah in Al-Qur’an is Ali-‘Imran. It has 200 ayahs, and as the third surah right after Al-Fatihah and Al-Baqarah, it becomes a part of juz’ 1. Surah Ali-‘Imran was revealed when Rasulullah was in Medina, one of 3 holy cities in Islam. The name of this surah, Ali-‘Imran, is taken from the name of Maryam’s father or Isa’s grandfather.
Ali-‘Imran means the family of ‘Imran. Thus, this surah mainly tells about the story of ‘Imran’s family, specifically about the birth of his daughter and grandson, Maryam and Isa. When ‘Imran’s wife was pregnant, she vowed that her baby one day would consecrate for Allah’s service.
إِذْ قَالَتِ ٱمْرَأَتُ عِمْرَٰنَ رَبِّ إِنِّى نَذَرْتُ لَكَ مَا فِى بَطْنِى مُحَرَّرًا فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنِّىٓ ۖ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ
“[Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of ‘Imran said, ‘My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.’” (Ali-‘Imran: 35)
Then, when the baby girl was born, she was named Maryam. She grew up to dedicate her life for Allah. Allah made her special for He purified and made her pregnant although there was no man who ever touched her. It’s all because of Allah’s power.
قَالَتْ رَبِّ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لِى وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ يَمْسَسْنِى بَشَرٌ ۖ قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ ٱللَّهُ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ ۚ إِذَا قَضَىٰٓ أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُۥ كُن فَيَكُونُ
“She said, ‘My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?’ [The angel] said, ‘Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’, and it is.’” (Ali-‘Imran: 47)
So, there was born Isa, whose birth is almost the same as the birth of Prophet Adam. We don’t need scientific explanation, but we believe that Allah can do anything and there’s nothing impossible for Him. Later in his life, Isa became a prophet who spread the principle of tawhid and fought for the religion of Allah. And another thing that’s important is we can learn sincerity from the story of Isa.
Surah Ali-‘Imran is quite complex so that we can find a lot of messages, advice, and stories of other prophets to learn. The examples of major issues presented in Surah Ali-Imran are the prohibition of riba’, the birth of Yahya, statement that Rasulullah is only human being (we are not allowed to deify him), lessons about the Battle of Uhud and Badar, Ka’bah at Mecca as the first House of Allah, the order to do amar ma’ruf nahi munkar, and the statement that those who are killed in the path of Allah are always alive.
Surah Ali-‘Imran is not only wonderful because of the stories or messages in it, but also the good deeds we can gain by reciting it. This fact is not explained in Al-Qur’an, yet there are some hadiths telling the blessing virtues of Surah Ali-‘Imran.
- It Will Be An Intercessor for Its Reciter On the Day of Judgment
يَقُولُ حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو أُمَامَةَ، الْبَاهِلِيُّ قَالَ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ “ اقْرَءُوا الْقُرْآنَ فَإِنَّهُ يَأْتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ شَفِيعًا لأَصْحَابِهِ اقْرَءُوا الزَّهْرَاوَيْنِ الْبَقَرَةَ وَسُورَةَ آلِ عِمْرَانَ فَإِنَّهُمَا تَأْتِيَانِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَمَامَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا غَيَايَتَانِ أَوْ كَأَنَّهُمَا فِرْقَانِ مِنْ طَيْرٍ صَوَافَّ تُحَاجَّانِ عَنْ أَصْحَابِهِمَا اقْرَءُوا سُورَةَ الْبَقَرَةِ فَإِنَّ أَخْذَهَا بَرَكَةٌ وَتَرْكَهَا حَسْرَةٌ وَلاَ تَسْتَطِيعُهَا الْبَطَلَةُ
“Abu Umama said he heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) say, ‘Recite the Qur’an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite it. Recite the two bright ones, al-Baqara and Surah Ali-‘Imran, for on the Day of Resurrection they will come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks, pleading for those who recite them. Recite Surah Al-Baqara, for to take recourse to it is a blessing and to give it up is a cause of grief, and the magicians cannot confront it.’” (Muslim)
On the Day of Judgment, there will be no protection or shade except from Allah. But the Qur’an, especially in this case is Surah Ali-‘Imran, will be there to help its reciters. It may come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks. With Allah’s power, it won’t forget those who recite it frequently with their hearts.
- It Is Sunnah to Recite Surah Ali-‘Imran Before Tahajjud Prayer (Qiyam Al-Lail)
عَنْ كُرَيْبٍ، أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ بْنَ عَبَّاسٍ، أَخْبَرَهُ أَنَّهُ، بَاتَ عِنْدَ مَيْمُونَةَ أُمِّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ – وَهِيَ خَالَتُهُ – فَاضْطَجَعَ فِي عَرْضِ الْوِسَادَةِ وَاضْطَجَعَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَأَهْلُهُ فِي طُولِهَا فَنَامَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَتَّى إِذَا انْتَصَفَ اللَّيْلُ أَوْ قَبْلَهُ قَلِيلاً أَوْ بَعْدَهُ قَلِيلاً اسْتَيْقَظَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَجَلَسَ يَمْسَحُ النَّوْمَ عَنْ وَجْهِهِ بِيَدِهِ ثُمَّ قَرَأَ الْعَشْرَ الآيَاتِ الْخَوَاتِيمَ مِنْ سُورَةِ آلِ عِمْرَانَ ثُمَّ قَامَ إِلَى شَنٍّ مُعَلَّقَةٍ فَتَوَضَّأَ مِنْهَا فَأَحْسَنَ وُضُوءَهُ ثُمَّ قَامَ يُصَلِّي
“It was narrated from Kuraib that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas told him that he slept at the house of Maimunah the wife of the Prophet (SAW), who was his maternal aunt. He said, ‘I laid down across the mattress and the Messenger of Allah (SAW) and his wife lay along it. The Prophet (SAW) slept until midnight, or a little before or a little after. The Prophet (SAW) woke up and began to rub the sleep from his face with his hand. Then he recited the last ten verses of Surah Ali-‘Imran. Then he got up and went to a water skin that was hanging up and performed wudu from it, and he performed wudu well, then he stood up and prayed…’” (Bukhari)
As Muslims and followers of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), doing his sunnah is a proof of our loyalty. In addition, there is importance of sunnah in Muslim’s life. This sunnah can be either what Rasulullah says, does, or advises us to do.
And from the hadith above, it is explained that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recited the last ten verses of Surah Ali-‘Imran before night prayer. Since what he does is a part of sunnah, we have a chance to gain good deeds by doing it.
- In This Surah, There’s Allah’s Greatest Name Which He Will Respond If He Is Called
عَنِ الْقَاسِمِ، قَالَ اسْمُ اللَّهِ الأَعْظَمُ الَّذِي إِذَا دُعِيَ بِهِ أَجَابَ فِي سُوَرٍ ثَلاَثٍ الْبَقَرَةِ وَآلِ عِمْرَانَ وَطَهَ
“It was narrated that Al-Qassim said that The Greatest Name of Allah, if He is called by which He will respond, is in three Surah: Al-Baqarah, Ali-‘Imran, and Taha.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
In Surah Ali-‘Imran, and two others surah, we can find The Greatest Name of Allah. And what makes it special is Allah will respond if we call Him with this Greatest Name. It is one thing which makes Surah Ali-‘Imran different from other surahs in Al-Qur’an.
Undoubtedly all surahs in Al-Qur’an has their own history and messages. But, there are some blessing virtues of Surah Ali-‘Imran as explained above which cannot find in other surahs. The point is whatever surah we recite, we are supposed to understand the meaning and internalize its values in our daily lives, so we can get benefits of reading Al-Qur’an.