Although Mujahid, Qatadah and Muqatil regard it as a Madani Surah, a great majority of the commentators are of the opinion that it is a Makki Surah. Its subject matter also testifies that it must have been revealed during the early stage at Makkah, when the message of Islam was being presented in a brief but highly impressive way so that the listeners who heard these verses once could not forget them even if they wanted to, for they were automatically committed to memory.
The formula for the way to salvation is to become a believer, do good deeds, be truthful and patient and advise the same to others.
This Surah is a matchless example of comprehensiveness and brevity. A whole world of meaning has been compressed into its few brief words, which are too vast in content to be fully expressed even in a book. The way to true success for mankind is clearly stated as is the way to ruin and destruction. Imam Shaf'e has said that if the people only comprehend this Surah well, it alone would suffice them as guidance. How important this Surah was in the sight of the companions can be judged from the tradition cited from Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Hisn Ad-Darimi Abu Madinah, according to which, whenever any two of them met they would not part company until they had recited Surah Al-'Asr to each other. (This narration is taken from Tabarani).