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Period of Revelation

This Surah was revealed during the Prophet's return from Ta'if to Makkah. According to all authentic traditions, he went to Ta'if three years before Hijrah i.e. at the end of the 10th year or in the early part of the 11th year of the Prophethood.

Major Issues, Divine Laws and Guidance:
  1. Those deities to whom mushrikin invoke are not even aware that they are being invoked.
  2. The Qur'an is the word of Allah, not of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
  3. The Prophet is but a plain Warner.
  4. The Qur'an conforms the revelation of the Torah given to the Prophet Musa.
  5. Those who treat their parents with kindness shall be rewarded and those who rebuke their parents shall be punished.
  6. No deity can save people from the wrath of Allah.
  7. A group of jinns embraced Islam after hearing The Qur'an.
  8. Pass on the message of Allah and bear with the disbelievers patiently.

The 10th year of the Prophethood was a year of extreme persecution and distress in the prophet's life. The Qureysh and the other tribes had continued their boycott of the Bani Hashim and the Muslims for three years and the Prophet and the people of his family and companions lay besieged in Shi'b Abi Talib. The Qureysh had blocked up this area from all sides so that no supplies of any kind could reach the besieged people. Only during the Hajj season were they allowed to come out and purchase some articles of necessity. But even at that time, whenever Abu Lahab noticed any of them approaching the marketplace or a trading caravan he would call out to the merchants exhorting them to announce forbidding rates of their articles for them, and would pledge that he himself would buy those articles so that they did not suffer any loss. This boycott which continued uninterrupted for three years had broken the backs of the Muslims and the Bani Hashim; so much so that at times, they were forced to eat grass and the leaves of trees. At last, when the siege was lifted, Abu Talib, the Prophet's uncle, who had been shielding him for ten long years, died. Hardly a month later his wife, Sayyidah Khadijah, who had been a source of peace and consolation for him ever since the beginning of the call, also passed away. Because of these tragic incidents which closely followed each other, the Prophet used to refer to this year as the year of sorrow and grief.

After the death of Sayyidah Khadijah and Abu Talib, the disbelievers of Makkah became even bolder in their campaign against the Prophet. The Prophet decided to go to Ta'if and approach the chiefs and nobles of the Bani Thaqif. But, not only did they refused to listen to him, they asked him to leave. When he was leaving, the chiefs of Thaqif sent their slaves and scoundrels after him. They screamed at him, abused him and pelted him with stones for most of the way from both sides of the road until he broke down, wounded bleeding. The degree of his injuries were such that his shoes were filled with blood. Wearied and exhausted, he took shelter in the shade of a wall of a garden outside Ta'if, and prayed:

"O Allah, to You I complain of my weakness, little resource, and lowliness before men. O Most Merciful, You are the Rabb of the weak, and You are my Rabb. To whom will You confide me? To the one who will misuse me, or to an enemy to whom You have given power over me? If You are not angry with me, I care not. Your favor is wide for me. I take refuge in the light of Your countenance by which the darkness is illuminated, and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest Your anger descends upon me or Your wrath lights upon me. It is for You to be satisfied until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except Yours." (Ibn Hisham: A. Guillaume's Translation, p. 193).

Grief stricken and heart broken when he returned near Qarn al-Manazil, he felt as though the sky was overcast by clouds. He looked up and saw Gabriel in front of him, who called out: "Allah has heard the way your people have responded. He has, therefore, sent this angel in-charge of the mountains. You may command him as you please." Then the angel of the mountains greeted him and submitted:" If you like, I will overturn the mountains from either side upon these people." The Holy Prophet replied : "No, but I expect that Allah will create from their seed those who will worship none but Allah, the One." (Bukhari, Dhikr al Mala'ikah; Muslim: Kitab al-Maghazi; Nasa'i :Al-Bauth). One night when he was reciting the Qur'an in Prayer, a group of the jinn happened to pass by and listened to the Qur'an, believed in it, and returned to their people to preach Islam. Thus, Allah gave His Prophet the good news that, if people were running away from his invitation, there were many jinn, who had become believers, and they were spreading the message among their own kind. Anyone who keeps this background in view, and studies this Surah will have no doubt left in his mind that this is not at all the composition of Muhammad (pbuh), but "a Revelation from the All Mighty, All Wise Allah." For nowhere in this Surah, from the beginning to end, does one find even a tinge of the human feelings and reactions, which are naturally produced in a man who is passing through such hard conditions. Considering the Prophet's prayer that is cited above which contains his own language, one can clearly note that its every word is saturated with the feelings that he had at the time.