Surah 38. Sad

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Period of Revelation

According to some traditions this Surah was revealed in the 4th year of the Prophethood after Sayyiduna Umar embraced Islam which happened after the migration to Habash. Yet, other traditions indicate that it was revealed during the last illness of Abu Talib, the uncle of the Prophet, i.e. the 10th or 11th year of the Prophethood.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance
  1. Al-Qur'an is full of admonition. The disbelievers are in sheer arrogance for calling the Prophet a liar.
  2. Story of the Prophet Dawood:
  3. The mountains and birds used to sing the rhymes of Allah with him.
  4. The litigants who came to him for a decision.
  5. The fact that Allah has not created the heavens and earth in vain.
  6. Story of the Prophet Sulaiman:
  7. His inspection of steeds which were to be used in Jihad.
  8. His prayer to grant him a kingdom similar of which may not be granted to any one.
  9. Story of Ayub, his sickness, patience and relief.
  10. The mission of the Prophet:
  11. Warn the people
  12. Declare that there is no divinity except Allah.
  13. Story of Adam and disobedience of Iblees (Shaitan).
  14. Here is a resume of the traditions related by Imam Ahmed, Nasai, Tirmidhi, Ibn Jareer, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Ibn Abi Hatim, Muhammad bin Ishaq and others:
History

When Abu Talib fell ill, and the Qureysh chiefs knew that the end of his life was near, they held consultations and decided to approach the old chief with the request that he should solve the dispute between them and his nephew. They feared that if Abu Talib died and then they subjected Muhammad (pbuh) to harsh treatment after his death, the Arabs would taunt them, saying, "They were afraid of the old chief as long as he lived, now that he is dead, they have started mistreating his nephew." At least 25 of the Qureysh chiefs including Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and Umayyah bin Khalaf went to Abu Talib. First, they put before him their usual complaints against the Prophet as usual, then said, "We have come to present before you a just request and it is this : let your nephew leave us to our religion, and we shall leave him to his. He may worship whomever pleases: we shall not stand in his way in this matter; but he should not condemn our gods and should not try to force us to give them up. Please tell him to make terms with us on this condition". Abu Talib called the Prophet and said, "Dear nephew, these people of your tribe have come to me with a request. They want you to agree with them on a just matter so as to put an end to your dispute with them." Then he told him about the request of the chiefs of the Qureysh. The Prophet replied, "Dear uncle: I shall request them to agree upon a thing which, if they accept, will enable them to conquer the whole of Arabia and subject the non-Arab world to their domination. "Hearing this the people were first confounded; they did not know how they should turn down such a proposal. Then, after they had considered the matter, they replied: "You speak of one word: we are prepared to repeat ten others like it, but please tell us what it is." The Prophet said: La-Ilah-ill-Allah. At this they got up all together and left the place saying what Allah has narrated in the initial part of this Surah.

Theme

The Surah begins with a review of the aforesaid meeting and the discourse is based on the dialogue between the Prophet and the disbelievers. Allah says that the actual reason for their denial is not because of any defect in the message of Islam, but their own arrogance, jealousy and insistence on following their ancestors blindly. They are not prepared to believe in a man from their own clan as a Prophet of God and follow him. After describing the stories of nine Prophets, one after the other, Allah has emphasized the point that His law of justice is impartial and that only the people of right attitude are acceptable to Him, that He calls to account and punishes every wrongdoer whoever he be, and likes only those people who do not persist in wrongdoing but repent as soon as they are informed about it, and pass their life in the world keeping in mind their accountability to Allah in the Hereafter.

In conclusion, mention has been made of the story of Adam and Iblees (Shaitan), which is meant to tell the disbelieving Qureysh that the same arrogance and vanity which was preventing them from bowing before Muhammad (pbuh) had prevented Iblees also from bowing before Adam. Iblees felt jealous of the high rank that Allah had given to Adam and was cursed when he disobeyed His Command. Likewise, "You, O people of Qureysh, are feeling jealous of the high rank that Allah has bestowed on Muhammad (pbuh) and are not prepared to obey him whereas Allah has appointed him as His Rasool. Therefore, you will be doomed ultimately to the same fate as that of Shaitan."

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