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Period of Revelation

There is a difference of opinion relating to this Surah's place of revelation. Ibn Marduyah has cited Ibn 'Abbas (may Allah bless them both) as saying that this Surah is Makki, and the same also is the view of Ata and Jabir. But Abu Hayyan in Al-Bahr al-Muhit, has cited Ibn 'Abbas, Qatadah and Dahhak as saying that this Surah was revealed at Madinah. However, there is a piece of evidence in the Surah itself, which points to its being a Madani revelation. It holds out a threat of destruction to those who offer the Salah (prayers) but are unmindful of their Salah since they want only to be seen offering the prayers. These kind of hypocrites were only at Madinah.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance
  1. Disbelief in the Hereafter is the main cause of moral decay.
  2. God consciousness, social welfare and caring about other people's necessities of life are the main purposes of Salah (prayers).

The theme of this Surah is to point out what kind of morals a man develops when he refuses to believe in the Hereafter. In vv 2-3 the condition of the disbelievers, who openly deny the Hereafter, is described. In the last four verses, the state of those hypocrites who apparently are Muslims but do not believe in the Hereafter: the Day of Judgement, reward and the punishment, has been described. On the whole, the objective of depicting the attitude and conduct of two kinds of people is to stress the point that man cannot develop a strong, stable and pure character in himself unless he believes in the Hereafter

Those people who offer Salah (prayers), but do not practice good behavior with other believers and neighbors, and do not provide a helping hand when they are needed to do so, have not understood the very reason for which congregational prayers are made obligatory. Therefore, it is pointed out that their prayers are nothing but a show and are not acceptable to Allah and such people may very well end up in the hellfire.