This Surah, revealed at Madinah, consists of three discourses. The first discourse (vv. 1-32 and vv. 64-120) appears to have been revealed soon after the Battle of Badr. The second discourse (vv. 33-63) was revealed in 9 A.H. when the deputation from the Christians of Najran visited the Prophet. The third discourse (vv. 121-200) was revealed after the Battle of Uhud.
- Allah's testimony about Himself.
- Decisive vs. Allegorical verses of The Qur'an.
- The True religion in the sight of Allah is only Islam.
- The only religion acceptable to Allah is Islam.
- Live Islam and die as a Muslim in order to get salvation.
- Followers of Isa (Jesus) were Muslims.
- Birth of Maryam (Mary), Yahya (John) and Isa (Jesus) peace be upon them.
- 'Mubahla' (calling for Allah's decision if the birth of Jesus is disputed). He was born without a father, as Adam (first man) was born without parents and Eve (first woman) was born without a mother.
- Life and death is from Allah.
- There is no escape from death.
- Those who are killed in the path of Allah are not dead, but are alive.
- Muhammad (pbuh) is no more than a Rasool/Prophet of Allah.
- Prohibition to take the unbelievers as protectors.
- Critical review and lessons taught during the Battle of Uhud.
- The first House of Allah ever built on earth is that of Ka'bah at Makkah.
As in Surah Al-Baqarah, the Jews were invited to accept the guidance. Similarly, in this Surah, the Christians are admonished to give up their erroneous beliefs and accept the guidance of the Qur'an. At the same time, the Muslims are instructed to nourish the virtues that may enable them to carry out their obligation of spreading the Divine guidance.
The believers had met with all sorts of trials and hardships about which they were forewarned in Surah Al-Baqarah. Though they had come out victorious in the Battle of Badr, they were not out of danger yet. Their victory had aroused the enmity of all those powers in Arabia which were opposed to the Islamic movement. Threatening events had begun to appear on all sides and the Muslims were in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. This state of emergency was also adversely affecting its economy which had already been badly disturbed by the influx of Muslim refugees from other places.
The Jewish clans, who lived in the suburbs of Al-Madinah, started discarding the treaties of alliance which they had made with the Prophet at his arrival from Makkah. They had discarded the treaties to the extent that during the Battle of Badr, these "People of the Book" sided with the mushrik Qureysh (in spite of the fact that their fundamental Articles of Faith - such as Oneness of Allah, Prophethood and life after death - were the same as those of the Muslims). After the Battle of Badr, they openly began to approach various Arab clans against the Muslims. The magnitude of the peril may be judged from the fact that even the life of the Prophet himself was always in danger. His Companions used to sleep in their armor and keep watch at night to guard against any sudden attack. Whenever the Prophet happened to be out of sight even for a short while, they would at once set out in search of him.
Jews even approached the Qureysh and challenged their ego to avenge the defeat they had suffered at Badr and promised to help them from within. As a result the Qureysh marched against Al-Madinah with an army of 3000 warriors and a battle took place at the foot of mount Uhud. The Prophet started out of Al-Madinah with one thousand men to fight the enemy. While they were marching to the battlefield, three hundred hypocrites deserted the army and returned to Al- Madinah to discourage the believers. A small band of hypocrites, however, remained among the seven hundred who accompanied the Prophet. They played their part and did their best to create mischief and chaos in the ranks of the Believers during the battle. This was the first clear indication of the fact that within the fold of the Muslim community there was quite a large number of saboteurs who were always ready to conspire with the external enemies to harm their own brethren.
These devices of the hypocrites played a major role in the setback at Uhud, even though the weaknesses of the Muslims also contributed to it. The Muslims were a new community, formed on a new ideology and had not as yet gotten thorough moral training. Naturally in this second hard test of their physical and moral strength, some weaknesses came to the surface. That is why a detailed critical review of the Battle of Uhud is made in this Surah which was needed to warn the Muslims of their shortcomings and to issue instructions for their reform.