In Surah Bakarah:259

"Or ˹are you not aware of˺ the one who passed by a city which was in ruins. He wondered, “How could Allah bring this back to life after its destruction?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years then brought him back to life. Allah asked, “How long have you remained ˹in this state˺?” He replied, “Perhaps a day or part of a day.” Allah said, “No! You have remained here for a hundred years! Just look at your food and drink—they have not spoiled. ˹But now˺ look at ˹the remains of˺ your donkey! And ˹so˺ We have made you into a sign for humanity. And look at the bones ˹of the donkey˺, how We bring them together then clothe them with flesh!”. When this was made clear to him, he declared, “˹Now˺ I know that Allah is Most Capable of everything.” (Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran")

According to islamic source, this story is attributed to Uzair. But I can not find the reason or proof around attributing the story to Uzair. Can someone give me some source reasoning the attribution of the story to Uzair?

2 Answers 2


This article states

Scholars differ on who is the person who is revived after being turned off for 100 years. Ibn Abu Hatim narrates from Ali ibn Abu Talib who said that the person mentioned in this verse is Uzair. The same is narrated by Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abu Hatim, Ibn Abbas, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, As-Saddi, and Sulaiman ibn Buraidah.

The interpretation does not go back to Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)

The words "Alam tara ila" in the Quran usually introduce remainders of known stories from the Jewish tradition, mostly to be found in the Tanakh (canonic scriptures), sometimes in Midrashim (weak oral traditions).

It is possible that a Jewish Midrash stated this; there was a lot of midrash around the famous prophet Ezra (a.s.). However, no telling that states that Ezra slept for 100 years has been preserved in the Jewish traditions that have been written down, and even if a such story existed, it would not be a proof that Surah al-Bakarah 2:258 refers to this, above all because the life of Ezra is quite well documented in the books of Ezra end Nehemia and leaves no 100 years space in his biography.

Newer researchers suppose that the story may rather go back to the Story of the Seven Sleepers from a Christian tradition. The earliest preserved source is from the Syrian bishop Jaakov of Serugh, near enough in time and place that the story may have been known by the Prophet (p.b.u.h), so that he knew the story behind the Message he received, as the text of the Quran suggests it, starting with the words "don't you see/remember..."

  • Story of Seven Sleeper? It is already mentioned in Surah Kahf. Can you explain the modern notion behind this? Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 17:04

There is no definite evidence that it was Ezra (عزير) but this is the report narrated from a group of exegetes. Other reports also exist saying that it was the prophet Jeremiah (إرمياء) or Ezekiel (حزقيل) or even some disbeliever.

The source of such reports is any collection of Tafsir, see e.g. Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim or Tafsir al-Tabary. Note that such reports are not checked for authenticity and even if they are authentic it is not evident from where the narrator took their information, since it is possible that they received it from the Prophet ﷺ and it is also possible that they are narrating what they heard from the Israelites of their time.

The biblical story in Ezekiel 37 is perhaps related, since it too mentions Ezekiel witnessing the process of resurrection, see e.g. Tafsir Ibn 'Ashur. Anyways the identity of the person is a mundane detail and is irrelevant to the lesson that the verse conveys.

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