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Period of Revelation

There is a difference of opinion relating to the place and period of these Surahs' revelation. According to Sayyiduna Hasan Basri, 'Ikrimah, 'Ata' and Jabir bin Zaid these Surahs are Makki. Ibn S'ad, Imam Baihaqi, 'Abd bin Humaid and others are of the opinion that these Surahs were revealed in A.H. 7, when the Jews had worked magic on the Prophet (upon whom be peace) in Madinah and he had fallen ill under its effect. The subject matter of these Surahs is explicit that they were sent down at Makkah when, for the first time, opposition to the Prophet had grown very intense. Later, when at Madinah storms of opposition were raised by the hypocrites, Jews and polytheists, the Prophet was instructed to recite these very Surahs, as has been mentioned in the above cited tradition from Sayyiduna Uqbah bin Amir. After this, when magic was worked on him and his illness grew intense, Gabriel came and instructed him by Allah's command to recite these very Surahs. Therefore, the view held by the commentators who describe both these Surahs as Makki is more reliable.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance
  1. Seek refuge with Allah from all evils.
  2. Seek refuge with Allah from the slinking whisperers.

As soon as the Prophet (pbuh) began to preach the message of Islam, it seemed as though he had provoked all classes of the people around him. As his message spread the opposition of the disbelieving Qureysh also became more and more intense. As long as they had any hope that they would be able to prevent him from preaching his message by throwing some temptation in his way, or striking some bargain with him, their hostility did not become very active. But when the Prophet completely disappointed them by the fact that he would not accept any kind of compromise with them in the matter of Faith, and in Surah Al-Kafirun they were plainly told: "I do not worship those who you worship nor are you worshippers of Him Whom I worship. For you is your religion and for me is mine", the hostility reached its extreme limits. More particularly, the families whose members (men, women, boys or girls) had accepted Islam, were burning with rage against the Prophet. They were cursing him, holding secret consultations to kill him quietly in the darkness of the night so that the Bani Hashim could not discover the murderer and take revenge; magic and charms were being worked on him so as to cause his death, make him fall ill, or become mad; shaitans from among the men and jinn spread every where to whisper one or another evil into the hearts of the people against him and the Qur'an he brought, to incite suspicion and cause him to flee. There were many people who were burning with jealousy, for they could not tolerate it that a man from a different family or clan should flourish and become prominent. For example, the reason why Abu Jahl was crossing every limit in his hostility to the Prophet was explained by him: "We and the Bani Abdi Manaf (to which the Prophet belonged) were rivals of each other: they fed the poor, we too fed the poor; they provided conveyances to the people, we too did the same; they gave donations, we too gave donations, so much so that when they and we have become equal in honor and nobility, they now proclaimed that they have a Prophet who is inspired from heaven; how can we compete with them in this field? By God, we will never acknowledge him, nor affirm faith in him." (Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 337-338)

Under these conditions, the Prophet (pbuh) was commanded to tell the people: "I seek refuge with the Lord of the dawn, from the evil of everything that He has created, and from the evil of the darkness of night and from the evil of magicians, men and women, and from the evil of the envious", and to tell them: "I seek refuge with the Rabb of mankind, the King of mankind, and the Deity of mankind, from the evil of the whisperer, who returns over and over again, who whispers (evil) into the hearts of men, whether he be from among the jinn or men." This is similar to what the Prophet Moses had been told to say when Pharaoh had expressed his desire to kill him before his full court: "I have taken refuge with my Rabb and your Rabb against every arrogant person who does not believe in the Day of Reckoning." (Surah Al-Mu'min: 27). And: "I have taken refuge with my Rabb and your Rabb lest you should assail me." (Surah Ad-Dukhan: 20).

On both occasions, these illustrious Prophets of Allah were confronted with well-equipped, resourceful and powerful enemies. On both occasions, they stood firm on the message of Truth against their strong opponents, even though they had no material power on the strength of which they could fight them, and on both occasions they utterly disregarded the threats, dangerous plans and hostile devices of the enemy, saying: "We have taken refuge with the Rabb of the universe against you." Obviously, such firmness and steadfastness can be shown only by the person who has the conviction that the power of His Rabb is the supreme power, that all powers of the world are insignificant against Him, and that no one can harm the one who has taken His refuge. Only such a person can say: "I will not give up preaching the Word of Truth. I care the least for what you may say or do, for I have taken refuge with my Rabb and your Rabb and Rabb of the whole universe."